It was a glorious morning. A southern cool welcomed everyone. It was neither cold, nor hot. Most participants came resplendent in their Aqua, Carolina blue and heather grey T-shirts with the Mahmudah Institute logo.
The sun scintillated and bounced off the lush verdant surroundings. The walkers and runners arrived fully prepared with their own non-disposable water bottles. The strollers came carrying the toddlers pushed by the adults with anticipatory curiosity etched on their faces. How was this experience going to be different than their usual jog along the canal?
We started with a brief intro to mindful walking. We asked all the participants to close their eyes and listen. Many heard the roar of the waterfall with their hearts for the first time that morning when they were silent.
Walking silently of course was a new experience for many and for others it was a relief not to make small talk.
While the Canada Geese skimmed the air above us and the paddlers moved their kayaks gracefully downstream on the canal, the walk began with enthusiastic earnestness. It was gratifying to see that everyone gave themselves permission not to hurry, not to compete, and not to ignore the lush beauty of the canal, river and the forest around them in favor of “catching up” with each other, though the temptation was great.
The loop of one mile was riddled with surprises.
It seemed like the entire turtle population of the river had climbed the rocks and lay sunning in the sunlight safe and secure from all human intervention.
We did find one baby turtle that was trying to get across from the canal to the river, how I don’t know because it seemed humanly impossible but may be it is not impossible for a turtle.
The fragrance of wild flowers beckoned with wild abandon and the birds chirped calling their young to heel.
Young boys and girls in the walk stopped to wonder at scenes across the river that they had missed in the past hurried walks and runs. The waterfall of the river was a fascination and a balm to the spirit with the mesmeric sound of rushing water.
Watching the walkers from the other side of the canal was like seeing gems of aquamarine and light blue crystal passing through the trees.
At the half way stop Jessica gave a demo of mindful running using some principles of the Chi method. She invited all to join her in the run. As she loped off someone said, “she runs like a gazelle”. The first and foremost to join her were the kids running down the incline, their faces alight with joy.
Going down the incline she looked like the pied piper leading the children away from their parents who stood and watched with pleasure at seeing their young leave the chrysalis and fly like a butterfly.
On reaching the origination point, many walked on in twos and threes to enjoy the beautiful serene morning while others went back to work with the memory of a uniquely beautiful morning populating their senses with tranquility and peace.
“ Do it again” someone said.
We could, but it will never be the same experience……… Will it?