New WALC episodes now available too.
I got thinking about this walking past the local hospice today. Seems there is substantial work already in progress. Check out these videos.
We are delighted to offer you 4 new episodes.
Go here to hear
Padakun friend, Corinna Fowlow , from the University of Toronto, reports on her recent experience in the Trinity Square labyrinth in Toronto.
Read her report https://1drv.ms/b/s!Asp4TsIxOwscjHSmiWsTBA5kmbPp
Perambulator, sashayer, ambler… How many words can you give for a “walker”?
Here’s our list of 135 words that describe different aspects of walking:
135 WORDS FOR WALKER
Just posted a bunch of new stuff
2. I have added a new 2-part WALC episode. Its a conversation with fellow walker, Lara Mylly during a walk at Shaw Woods.
Enjoy our latest WALC Podcast item.
(Sorry about the wind noise)
For all of our previous walking history, we have walked on the physical earth, among real tress and stones. There have been symbolic practices, like visualizations, where we cultivate an imagined world, like the Buddhist Pure Land and we have used symbolic journeys like the labyrinth or Stations of the Cross. Only recently, as part of our electronic revolution has it become possible to view and experience, in a rich and compelling way, a simulated walk in hundreds of world and otherworldly locations.
Using various kinds of head-mounted “virtual reality” (VR) devices we can “walk” on the Appalachian Trail, in the Italian Dolomites and more.
Two Main Types:
2D Photosphere and 3D Modelling
The question we can begin with is whether we can practice any contemplative walking in any of these artificial environments. Would they actually represent the experience we have in a real trail or city environment. Might the experience be similar enough? Might it even be better? We’ll come back to this in later posts.
For an initial commentary, check out this Sierra Club commentary: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/can-virtual-reality-make-great-outdoors-even-greater
I’ve started reading a journal of Dorothy Wordsworth on a trip she and her brother William took to Switzerland just after the end of the Napoleonic War, (early 1820’s). She is the lesser known of the two sibs, but holds her own as a keen observer of their travels. Its remarkable her walking energy for a 19th century woman, a time when women were held to be fragile flowers.
She is one of a set of writer-walker-tourists that we are studying to understand walkers’ experience in the past. Dorothy was an avid walker, capable of 25-30 mile/day walks – no slouch!
In her book, Prints, Panoramas, and Picturesque Travel in Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal of a Tour on the Continent, Pamela Buck writes:
When Dorothy Wordsworth arrived in Switzerland in 1820 with her brother the poet William Wordsworth, his wife Mary Wordsworth, her cousin Thomas Monkhouse, and his new wife Jane Horrocks, they were one of many middle-class family groups who adopted the practices of commercial tourism in order to see the country. Her Journal of a Tour on the Continent, which covers the three-and-a-half-month journey through France, Switzerland, and Italy, records her visits to renowned sites such as the birthplace of William Tell, the castle of Chillon, Voltaire’s château, and her brother’s path through the Alps from his walking tour of 1790. With the reopening of the Continent after the end of the Napoleonic wars, travel abroad was no longer only a privilege of wealthy men on the Grand Tour but a popular consumer enterprise supported and enhanced by guidebooks, print culture, and visual entertainments (Wood 117). Many of these were influenced by William Gilpin’s theory of the picturesque, namely an aesthetic based on the perceptual structures of art that encouraged tourists to view landscape as a picture.
Walking along the K and P this morning, I was wondering about trail design and shape as that relates to contemplative walking. The K and P, like most rail-bed trails is straight, flat and uninterrupted with curves for most of its 25 mile length. This does not mean its uninteresting, because the views of the ravine creeks and the profile of Pinnacle Hill are outstanding. It does, however, lack the undulating curves we so often associate with the best trails.
This leads to the question of what are the best kind of trail shapes for contemplative walking. What I realized is that there are shapes which facilitate different forms of contemplation. What I found on this rail-bed trail was the excellent support for recitative practice. In my case, I found the steadiness and predictability of this track supported a good 30 minute period of nembutsu chanting, some of which I did sotto voce.
It certainly promotes a very good context for developing pace, rhythm and balance, as well as the lack of distraction that allows for real interior experience. I was able to experience the full bodily experience of my walking, because I did not need to attend to sudden changes in trail texture or shape.
Later, I went looking for what there was in principles of trail design. I found this document from Ontario which I found quite interesting.
This is a 300 plus page document primarily describing various standards for trail construction processes. Things like constructing treads, water management, soil types and so on. It also describes principles of sustainable trails and “universal design”, that is designing for all kinds of users. Interestingly, it cites curving trails as the ideal. This fits well with what Ellard (Places of the Heart) says about human preference for curving lines.
I have posted a related piece on the WALC podcast today as well.