Inner Peace: By Jim Hawes — For years, walking my dog was an obligatory duty that I hurried to get done because I was preoccupied with thinking about the past or my future.

For years, walking my dog was an obligatory duty that I hurried to get done because I was preoccupied with thinking about the past or my future. But, today we strolled, and that's what it was, a meandering, no impatience, no hurrying with Chi (my Irish terrier) to get done with his frequent territorial markings. There was no sense of time in the several hundred or more stops. Every scene was like a magnificent, pristinely beautiful park. I felt an intense urge to linger in each uniquely different scene so as to get more aesthetic pleasure.

But there was a quality beyond thinking. Two insights came into or out of this magnificence. One was a gradual but complete cessation of pain on the inside of my leg. This was a result of allowing ballistic, energetic Chi to pull me into a full sprint down the hill and across the bridge to the park. More than halfway through my stroll, my steps became much slower, and my stops were much longer. And suddenly, as I passed through each scene, a parable popped magically into mind. For example, I saw an ornamental green bush, but it had several brown dead leaves strewn here and there. Here is an example of living. We humans are like the vibrant green bush, expressing our innate beauty and energy. But there are always negatives or challenges appearing. But these can be springboards that cause us to see more clearly this always magnificent presence.

Nearing the end of my stroll, I crossed an empty field and followed a makeshift path. On previous walks, at this point, I was usually hurrying to get home for my much anticipated smoothie or just lost in thinking about the past or my future plans for the day. Today, this vacant field was suddenly transformed into a virtual flower land. As Chi stopped abruptly, to sniff and mark, the sudden clarity was stunning. Oat or rye grass fluttered, sparkled, almost glowing in the soft whisper of wind. Looking more closely around me, there was a multitude of flowers that I had never seen. Yellow and bright orange poppies, purple thistle blooms and a prolific bursting forth of bright blue flowers, plus an array of hundreds of bachelor buttons were like hundreds of smiling faces welcoming the rising sun over Roxy Ann Peak. I now realize that this magnificent strolling is always available and can be done anywhere, anytime and is totally unaffected by rising food and gas prices or the ups and downs of one's 401k. It does not matter if we are six or 100; we can awake to this incredible presence whether it is in our backyard or a short trip to the mailbox.

So, what is preventing you from realizing or seeing this omnipresent beauty? No "How To Method" or multi-step treatment is necessary. To suggest that one quit thinking is much easier said than done. The old adage of the harder you try, the more difficult it is has a lot of truth in it. In the last year, I have discovered trying to create a disciplined approach is not successful. Rather, the secret is to become very watchful or alert for this beauty, not just in your meditation or quiet time but in each of your daily activities. Continue this gentle watchfulness and you will see your conditioned mind (thinking) begin to label the cool, rainy weather, a plant or a neighbor's yard as ugly. Your patience and attentiveness will be rewarded, and you will find yourself in a consciousness I like to call "suchness." Or you could call this being in the non-judgmental center of the continual swing of the pendulum from ecstatic beauty to ugliness. So, whether you are strolling in or out of your house or at work, this being-ness is just waiting for you to awake to it.

Jim Hawes, retired teacher, writer and spiritual practioneer lives in Medford. You are invited to submit a 650 to 700 word article about your path to Inner Peace. Please e-mail your submission or questions to Sally McKirgan at innerpeace@q.com. For previous articles, visit dailytidings.com and search for "inner peace."