During my recent 5 hour mini-silence-retreat, I spent some time doing walking meditation. This was the first time I had done this, and only received a little instruction from monastics on the proper way to do this.
I was told to walk extremely slowly and mindfully, and not focus on the breath as one normally does in sitting meditation. The focus here is completely on observing the body.
I actually found walking meditation to be a little more difficult than imagined.
When walking so very slowly, you sometimes actually start to lose your balance and can fall over if you are not paying close attention. Gradually, a clear awareness came to me about the function of every muscle in my body, including my heart and breathing. I became aware that I have never paid any attention to what was actually happening when I walk. Such a simple, mindless act, that we all do every day. But most of us do this without any awareness of all the things that are taking place. And I realized, if I lack so much awareness of this daily act, how much awareness am I missing from so many other things in my life.
Most recently, I see this applying my practice in many areas. I can talk-the-talk of Buddhism, and I can walk-the-walk during walking meditation, but how much am I truly seeing and putting into practice very day?
My sense right now, is that it’s not enough. I have gotten way too caught up in Pali words, sutta quotes, traditions and proper behaviors. I have become almost a caricature of myself. A new illusion for the World to see, and an illusion that I choose to view when I look in the mirror.
I see more and more that this path is not an easy one. No, in fact it is extremely difficult. Challenged at every turn, and forced to examine the self. With the ego rearing its ugly head like an unyielding behemoth. Drop the ego? Hahahahahahah, good luck to you!
Is it even possible to do? I’m not sure, as I have never known anyone with no ego. I do however having monastics who are loving examples of minimal ego, or at least a very clear awareness of the ego arising.
But the ego seems to be our identity, and something that without which we hold no value in society.
If it’s not about me, my thought, desires, wishes, then why bother caring at all. We can easily begin to feel insignificant and worthless, of no value to anyone really.
This conclusion/observation leads me to wonder if the ego is necessary for our existence. Perhaps we should only have a little ego and not a lot?
Or is the elimination of the ego really the only way we will finally experience the freedom that put any of us on this path to begin with?
And like my walking meditation, I see that I have to be careful not to fall down right now. And I see it’s not about the walking or the sitting, but all about paying careful attention. And I simply have to accept that, like my mini-retreat, this can become very painful at times. And although there are times I feel like running away from it all, I am fully aware there is no place to hide from the self. Wherever I go, there I am.
May you be well, happy and peaceful. (If you want to!)