Apr 27 2012

Thich Nhat Hanh – Walking Meditation

Published by at 9:48 am under Poetry

Walking Meditation
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

— from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, by Thich Nhat Hanh

/ Photo by BinaryApe /

Something for us today by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen monk, peace activist, author, meditation teacher…

This doesn’t feel entirely like a “poem” to me; it’s more like rhythmic, chant-like set of instructions. Reading these words I can almost hear Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle voice offering these suggestions to us as we engage in walking meditation.

Often we imagine a very stern notion of what meditation is, and it involves sitting rigidly still. Walking meditation invites us to move, to interact with our environment — but with a sense of presence, with full awareness, with resting mind. This allows the body to move in its natural fluidity without growing stiff. It encourages a full, easy flow of the breath.

But, in walking meditation, we are not marching from point A to point B–

We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.

We are dropping the purpose and destination from our stride. The way we walk is important. Resting mind, allowing mind, welcoming heart.

It is not an easy thing to move through a garden or down the sidewalk without becoming attached to the thousand things we see or think. The reflex is to collapse the awareness with each small encounter, like a fisherman with a net, trying to ensnare and possess the world. But to keep that net of awareness open, spread wide, to witness the magical moment, to watch it dance for its instant in the sun, and then to allow it to drift past, that it is the gentle work of the meditator.

To walk through the world, with a sense of peace in the heart and belly, feeling simple happiness beneath the worries of the day, touching the earth and being touched by the earth, seeing and encountering without constricting the awareness, secure enough to know ourselves, where we are, what we are part of… we are doing walking meditation.

Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Have a beautiful day!

Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Nhat Hanh poetry, Buddhist poetry Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnam/France/US (1929 – )
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

More poetry by Thich Nhat Hanh

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Thich Nhat Hanh – Walking Meditation”

  1. Davidon 27 Apr 2012 at 12:31 pm

    comment on your commentary: I’ve recently begun meditating (Tergar community – Joy of Living) within which “walking meditation” is taught/encouraged so I was especially happy to see this poem and to read your comments…they belong together like one’s feet and the pavement (or grass, or trail, or road)

  2. Carol Burnson 27 Apr 2012 at 12:59 pm

    thanks – as always Ivan. This poem is especially meaningful since I have been
    reading Thich Nhat Hanh for more years than i want to count. Such a person he
    is and this poem is especially meaningful now. God’s peace, what you offer to us
    is a true blessing. Thank you.

  3. Beckyon 27 Apr 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Beautiful thoughts to start my weekend. I love the image of kissing the earth with my feet. Very powerful. Thanks Ivan.

  4. Gerryon 28 Apr 2012 at 9:29 am

    I fail to thank you, dear Ivan, for the spiritual gifts you prepare for us. You give yourself and much of your time to your readers and I benefit from each offering. Many Thanks!!

  5. rena navonon 28 Apr 2012 at 12:14 pm

    The prose-poet I wrote about in my dissertation wrote reveries while walking through nature. So your choice of a poet who did his meditating walking is right up my alley. I never quite settled into a yoga position firmly enough to meditate so I appreciate your broad-mindedness on the subject, leaving it up to the individual just HOW he arrives at his truth, as long as he reaches the same goal.
    Each of us must find our own ‘path’ and walking seems as good a way as any. (Works well with the word path, doesn’t it?)

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