When I part with members of my family after visiting them in the UK (I live near Madrid), as I walk away with my bags, I feel a strong pull in my chest, and it really feels as if invisible strings were linking my heart to theirs, that the atoms in my heart are being physically stretched to the limit of my chest as this close heart-bond is being pulled away from the loved one in question.
I have the same feeling sometimes when I’m sad about something. The other day it was because one of my sisters had recently given birth and I’m 1500 miles away in Madrid, and was desperate to see her and the new baby. I’ve arranged to go in May, but those invisible heart strings were feeling stretched in that direction now, and it was a hard, heavy feeling.
So I decided to try some walking meditation. Just a long slow walk from home to a neighbourhood park. I remembered the idea of embracing difficult emotions like a mother embraces a crying baby, and I put all my concentration into embracing and feeling the heavy feeling in my chest as I walked slowly.
It was surprisingly easy. Easy to have something to focus on. Easy to be there lovingly for the feeling in my chest. And slowly the heavy, sad, stretched-heart-strings feeling began to diminish, feeling lighter and lighter all the time.
By the time I got back to our street I felt completely fine, happy. I’d decided not to go rushing off to the UK in a huge hurry, as I knew it would put stress on the rest of my life, and that I don’t want to live in that rushing-around mode any more, as I have done for years. I can happily wait for May.
This for me really was a miracle of mindfulness. From a depressed, sad feeling, to light and free in the space of an hour’s walk spent embracing a difficult emotion. It works. Since then I’ve gone back to doing a little walking meditation every day. I’m no good at sitting on meditation cushions, but taking my heart for a walk, especially in spring, is a real joy.