Last September, in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, I posted a picture on Facebook of some beautiful blossoms on the grounds of the Rodin Museum. My walks through the Rodin path and the flowers in Baldwin Park helped keep my spirits up as I missed family and friends.
Today, even though I’m fully vaccinated, the City is advising that we wear masks whenever we’re in an indoor public space, such as the elevator and lobby in my building. The virus variants seem to be able to get around vaccine protections for some people, as well as sicken those who are not vaccinated.
While I wear my mask now as I go in and out of the building, I don’t wear it outside. Such as when I walk by the Rodin on my way to physical therapy, three times a week. I’m making progress in PT, but the sessions can still be quite painful. Ice at home helps. And, thankfully, the rash is gone and the gout only sporadic.
Walking has become a mindfulness exercise because I have to concentrate on each step, each leg. Heel first, then fold into the toe. Because of the pain early on, I had gotten in the habit of shuffling around instead of taking proper long steps. Although my sitting meditation practice has become very irregular during this recovery period, physical therapy provides many opportunities for mindful attention to my body. I’ve written before how paying attention to itches and minor pains during meditation can sometimes make them stop bothering me. Watching for the nerve impulse before I feel an itch or an ache, watching as that feeling arises; then, watching how I react to that feeling as unpleasant. I could do that for these minor itches and aches, but the intensity of some pains lately often blows out the circuits of mindful attention. Then, I work on paying attention to that process. It also helps to recall the training of sitting meditation when the therapist is leaning into bending my knee. Remember to breath. Relax my muscles.
In the picture above you can see my rewards these days: the lovely blooms that have started to appear along the paths through the grounds of the Rodin. Same process, even if it results in pleasant feeling.
Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. What you feel, you perceive. What you perceive, you think about. The Honey-Cake Sutta. MN 18.