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Holiday, friendship and “meditation retreat” (seventh post)

And here's a briefer seventh Moroccan post looking a little at the internal "meditative methods" being used by various of us in the desert.

Following the camels

So at the lunch siesta today I asked our group what they had been doing in their heads while they were walking.  One person talked about simply "being with the walking and the breath".  They're a dancer and spoke of "dancing with the wind".  They said something too about "headlessness".  That took me back to the Incredible String Band and their 1960's song about Douglas Traherne Harding who lectured on "headlessness".  I remember staying the night at Douglas's home nearly 40 years ago!

Another of us spoke of focusing on different senses in turn, exploring different walking paces, and being with a sense of smallness in the great sweep of the desert.  Someone else talked about feeling themselves "from the inside, viscerally".  They spoke of feeling the sensations on their skin, of being highly aware of the different terrains we walked over, of expansion and a sense of connection with the land, of an inside and outside dance.

Another person said they had walked "holding each of us in turn in their heart" and someone else was silently repeating "Be still and know that I am God".  One of us - a yoga teacher - described linking breath and walking - four paces with each in breath and four paces with each out breath.  They talked too about silently chanting Patanjali yoga sutras.

Several of us spoke of walking with the camels and how being with them quietened and affected us deeply.  Several too noted how walking day after day had progressively deepened our inner quietness.

When we started walking again after lunch, I experimented with some of these approaches.  I started initial quietening with the four pace/in breath, four pace/out breath sequence, and moved to the inner and outer awareness "dance".  I found myself connecting deeply with feeling myself "from the inside, viscerally" and, for some reason, that linked with such a strong sense of energy and vitality.  Such a strong sense of being alive.  Walking was easy.  I held myself back from striding ahead of the camels.  The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio writes about an inner sense like this in his great book "The feeling of what happens: body, emotion and the making of consciousness."   


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