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Walking Meditation in Snow

"One of the most profound teachings is also the shortest: 'I have arrived,'" Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, writes in his book, "How to Walk."

Hermit Thrush in snow

"When we return to our breathing, we return to the present moment, our true home."

When the snow began falling last week, I did what comes naturally--I threw on some outerwear, put on my camera's raincoat, grabbed my binoculars, and went for a walk in the woods.

I thought this would be the perfect time to do walking meditation, aware of each step, each breath. I adore snow, and walked slowly, deliberately. I didn't want to waste a moment of the magic.

"With every step, we can feel the miracle of walking on solid ground. We can arrive in the present moment with every step," says Hanh.

Dark-eyed Junco in snow

It was easy to focus on my walking--each booted footfall squeaked on the fresh snow. I was present with my steps and with every bird.

But I was so focused on my feet, and on the snow, and the birds, that it was about a half an hour before I took my first real breath. A breath imbued with such a rush of invigorating cold, I hugged myself, laughing out loud.

I'd been breathing, but not consciously. Now I concentrated on the fresh breath of winter, on the breath that opens me to joy.

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