It’s called the invasion of the slow-walkers.
I sincerely wish I’d come up with that name, but I can’t take any credit. These beautiful old women coined that term a long time ago when the first Mindfulness retreat came to the Spirit Center.
Thanks to this particular retreat, the monastery grounds are teeming with near-statues of people. My first experience with them was in the dining hall, where all of our meals are now being held in silence so the retreatants can be uber-aware of how and what they are feeling and thinking while they dine.
Now, there’s something very interesting about these people, not because they are moving so slowly, and not because they’ve chosen to go on a retreat, but because they are mixing into a pre-existing community and altering the environment. I am not a part of the retreat this time around, but when I’m around them, I immediately enter a more mindful state. (How can you avoid it? No one is looking at you or talking to you or anything…) For instance, at dinner (lunch), I noticed that even though I have been eating more slowly lately, I still often take another bite of food just before I’ve finished chewing the last. Before you go, ‘eeew,’ try paying attention to how you eat. While walking back from my work at the museum this afternoon, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw one of the women crouched in the grass just behind a bush. But, I tell you what, it made me remember to walk slower and look around.
So, as odd as it is having half-zombies slowly wandering around each corner ready to startle you, it’s kind of great, too. Because they serve as a living (though at remarkably slow pace) reminder to be present to your surroundings. And really, with such beautiful surroundings we have here on the Camas Prairie, it would be shameful to do anything less.