In an effort to feel better about a week with too much food and too little exercise, I went for a 7 mile walk on the Cliff Walk this afternoon, here in Newport. I’m sure I’m still on the surplus side of calories, but I do feel better physically and mentally than I have in days.
In addition to walking a lot during the week, I usually do a long walk alone on the Cliff Walk every Sunday. I started this tradition in the fall of 2010, when I needed solitude and time to reflect as much as a I needed water and food to survive. Somehow that autumn, through one of life’s graces, I found the weekly audio dharma talks of Tara Brach, and started listening to them on these Sunday walks.
Dr. Brach is a clinical psychologist and a teacher of Buddhist meditation. She gives these weekly talks to an audience of 250 students at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (DC) a place she founded in 1998. She teaches lessons on mindfulness (vipassana) meditation practice, and emphasizes the importance of compassion for the self and others. Her talent as a speaker is beyond impressive. She could probably make a speech about cardboard boxes interesting and moving. She knows how to hold your interest with humorous but apropos anecdotes and jokes. She can also, a moment later, bring you to tears with the profundity of her message through the use of a quote, or a poem, or a true story.
You don’t have to be student of Buddhism or meditation to get something from her weekly dharma talks. She’s not preachy, or trying to convert you, just hoping to inspire, and share the benefits of mindfulness as a practice in your daily life. I’ve gone to teachings given by Tibetan monks and learned all sorts of interesting albeit complicated things about Buddhism, but I’ve never left these classes with the feeling of inspiration that I have when I’m done listening to one of Dr. Brach’s talks.
|The view from my spot, the day after Hurricane Irene, Summer 2011
On the Cliff Walk, I’ve found this perfect spot for meditating. This outcropping of rocks has a spot at it’s edge that has this bowl scooped out that is just the right size for my bum to fit into. When I sit here, the angle of the seat is just right, and sets my spine upright into the perfect position for meditation. Today, thanks to another 60 degree day in November, I was able to sit here for a 20 minute break in my walk and listen to the talk on gratitude that Dr. Brach gave earlier this week. Between the weather, the view and the abundance of great food that I shared with friends and family this week, I probably didn’t need to be reminded to be appreciative of it all. But still, I listened, like I do every Sunday, and finished my walk with a grateful heart.
More Food (well, maybe less for now), Less Pain,