“Walking meditation” brings up images of robed monks silently, slowly walking in circles, with eyes lowered and attention directed inward. Forest hiking might evoke anything from a casual stroll without focus to speed-tramping across an uneven terrain. This weekend workshop will match meditative techniques in a progressive approach, from inner mindful to outer awareness, so that even veteran hikers can experience nature with different eyes and senses altogether. Mindfulness helps to quiet the incessant interior dialogue and focus attention. Awareness meditation is used to extend and expand that attention outwards, providing a fuller view of the environment.
Naistadt studied Buddhism at Columbia College in the early ‘70s and became a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Now a senior teacher in the Shambala tradition, he instructs students to attune to the energies of nature and how we relate to them. The key point is to teach meditation inside and outside – to bring the idea of “presence” out of the meditation hall and into life. “People have a hard time working with their minds in any situation. Nature has a magic of its own and helps refresh us. Doing this more deliberately helps us discover what’s around us all the time,” Naistadt explains. Beginners and experts alike will find new ways of seeing and experiencing the magical worlds of perception that await us.
A Friday evening introductory talk is open for one and all, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (donations gratefully accepted). Registered participants in the workshop will meet on Saturday at 9 a.m. for a course of sitting and walking meditation, and will take those tools outdoors that afternoon to apply perceptual exercises on short excursions on the land. There will be talks and discussions throughout the afternoon, ending at 6 p.m. On Sunday, a guided hike along the Shawangunk Ridge will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The workshop costs $175 for non-members and $166 for members, with lodging available for an additional $100, breakfast and lunch included. Dress for the elements and bring all-weather gear!