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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Long Road Turns to Joy
A Guide to Walking Meditation
Thich Nhat Hanh
Parallax Press 05/96 Paperback $8.00
ISBN: 093807783X

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk who lives in Plum Village, a meditation community in France. In many of his writings, he notes that far too many people live in the past or the future and are oblivious to the wonderful present moment. They are convinced that speed makes all the difference in the world when it comes to human activity in the marketplace. He writes:

"If you look deeply, you can see all the worries and anxiety people print on the Earth as they walk. Our steps are usually heavy, filled with sorrow and fear. We feel insecure, and our steps reveal it."

There is another way of being which brings peace and happiness:

"Walking meditation is meditation while walking. We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on the Earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It only takes a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy."

This meditation practice is not a means to an end; it is sufficient unto itself. According to the author, it helps us regain our sovereignty, our freedom as a human being. It is a way of connecting with the Earth, getting more fresh air, improving our circulation, nourishing our spirit, and fostering community. At one point, Thich Nhat Hanh advises us to "visualize a lotus, a tulip or a gardenia blooming under each step the moment your foot touches the ground. If you walk beautifully like this, your friends will see fields of flowers everywhere you walk."


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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