I walk a lot in the Himalayas, and for all sorts of reasons. First of all, in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and in the mountains of India, as soon as you leave the main roads, most of the countryside is accessible only on foot.
Secondly, I walk to meet spiritual masters or hermits who live in retreat in the mountains and to visit sacred lakes and mountains.
But I also walk to visit some of the 160 humanitarian projects--in the areas of education, health and social services--that our organization, Karuna-Shechen, oversees in these countries.
And finally, I walk to imprint within me the extraordinary beauty of nature in these gorgeous countries...and of course, take photographs of these places which gives me great joy to share through my photography books.
From the series, Et vous, pourquoi marchez-vous? Terres d'Aventure (Terdav pour les intimes)
On Walking Meditation: (Excerpt from Why Meditate? by Matthieu Ricard)
Here is an active approach to cultivating mindfulness that many people can use as a change of pace from sitting meditation.
It consists of walking while concentrating totally on every step you take. You need to walk slowly enough to be able to be mindful of your least movement, but not so slowly that you lose your balance.
With each step, be mindful of your balance, of how you touch your heel to the ground and then progressively bring your whole foot down, and of how the other foot leaves the ground and comes down again farther on.
Keep your gaze directed downward a few steps in front of you, maintaining the walking itself as your main object of concentration. If you don’t have a big space, then walk back and forth, pausing for a second or two each time you turn around and remaining mindful of this interruption of your movement.
Photo: Matthieu walking along Kathog Lake, Yuksam, West Sikkim, March 2014. From the gallery website. ©MatthieuRicard