Archives for posts with tag: walking meditation

It’s a Friday morning. A busy morning. A mostly sort of routine-ish morning. I’ve got my coffee (#2), and a day of work ahead of me. I’ve got errands to run and a reminder on my calendar. I’m okay with all of that, and feeling mostly sort of relaxed, and generally fairly organized.

The noise of contractors here at the house is a bit much to take. Calls and meetings would be affected. I’m fortunate to be able to easily reschedule all but one. I focus on work, then catch myself holding my breath – too focused. I take a break.

Take breaks. Mean it when you do; really step away, and take a minute to “just breathe” and maybe even let your mind wander! When I returned to work, I felt fresh and comfortably focused without stress or anxiety. It’s enough to notably improve what is already a decent morning. I sip my cold coffee, content and relaxed. It’s enough.

Before the work day began, this morning, I embarked on what I hope becomes a regular element of my new normal, my new morning routine; I went for a walk. It was only a mile, and really just around and about my local neighborhood, brisk, cane in hand, smiling and waving to neighbors getting their day started. It was pleasant. I felt energized for the day ahead by the time I returned home. It’s not a hike in the forest or anything, but it’s a nice contribution to my general wellness and fitness.

I discover a pleasantly inaccessible bit of green space within the neighborhood.

It’s a nicely level walk, on suburban sidewalks, nestled in the countryside, tucked between a local highway and the “old” version of that route. Since I sometimes walk very early, as early as those last dark pre-dawn minutes, straying from the pavement would present needless hazards for my messed up ankle. I take my cane, and my patience with myself (and my middle-aged, less-than-ideally-fit-but-working-on-it limitations), and enjoy the journey for what it is. A gentle moment with the woman in the mirror as the way ahead becomes steps fading behind me. I see things I missed before, each time I make the trip around the neighborhood; it’s still very new.

I stop near where the creek that runs behind the house becomes a mere trickle, and wonder what is holding back the flow?

I walk on, wondering what “holds back my flow’ in life, love, and art… just… you know, “along the way”, and how can I “do more, better” without exhausting myself, or finding myself mired in resentment or resistance? I think about the need for healthy breaks, and how that improves my productivity at work… There’s something to learn here.

…I drink some water, and begin again. 🙂

 

I’m sipping my coffee, quietly reading some news. I give up on it quickly; most of the news is at best a bit of a downer, and at worst holds some amount of potential to be a significant mood-wrecker. I stifle a sneeze, and wonder why I haven’t put a box of tissues in my studio, yet? No, I’m not ill. It’s just a stray sneeze. Dust? Or allergens of some sort. I return to my coffee and my thoughts.

Where does this path lead?

I took my first walk in the countryside since the move, on Saturday. It was a lovely day for it. The entire weekend was sunny. Saturday was pleasantly warm and somewhat mild. Sunday was ferociously hot for the area. I enjoyed both days quite a lot. The walk was lovely, and I am glad I got out on the trail, although most of the walk was simply around and about the new neighborhood. 🙂 Plenty to see, all of it new, most of it entirely ordinary. 🙂 Small pleasures still count as pleasant.

There is the usual assortment of roadside flowers in bloom to be seen along the way.

I walked a bit more than a mile. Far enough to walk a new path, to see some new points of view, and to wave at new neighbors.

I crossed a small foot bridge passing over a small branch of the creek that flows past our house.

The walk was enough to make my ankle ache, by the time I had returned home. Still, I wasn’t in much pain this weekend, and as improvements in quality of life go, a reduction in pain is a good one to enjoy. So, I spent the weekend enjoying that. 🙂

I sip my coffee, now, enjoying my recollections of the weekend just past, and thinking about the day ahead. Later on, I’ll drive “into the city”, which I’m not looking forward to at all. It’s just a necessary errand. Portland is seriously “stirred up” right now, and I’ve no interest in becoming mixed up in that chaos. I looked over my route, yesterday evening, and verified it does not need to take me through the heart of things, down near the courthouse, before confirming my plans. Portland, Oregon, has a lively protest culture, and I have long respected and valued the willingness of Portland’s citizens to take a stand against injustice. That feeling does not diminish the experiences of profound inconvenience and considerable risk that go along with attempting to pass through an area filled with protesters, counter-protesters, and aggressive law enforcement. I make a point of keeping my distance, unless I am intending to be an active participant. Safer.

I notice that thoughts of protests, protesters, and conflict, have caused my heart to pound and my breathing to become shallow. I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and relax. There is no threat here, just me and this cup of coffee, which I am enjoying very much. I think about my Saturday morning walk, instead, and feel my shoulders relax, and my heartbeat slow down. I sip my coffee and begin to plan my day.

…Pretty routine stuff, but I’ll point out that generally speaking, on the average, things tend to be pretty routine, day-to-day, most particularly if I allow them to be so. I could keep myself constantly in a state of tension, ready for a fight, poised on the edge of drama, constantly examining my experience for threat of danger, or revisiting past conversations looking for an enemy to confront… I know people who do. I once did, myself. It’s not actually a pleasant or comfortable way to live, and it didn’t seem to enhance my quality of life at all – and it didn’t reduce the danger or drama in my life, or do much to actually prepare me to deal with those sorts of things, in fact. It was just uncomfortable and emotionally messy. I’m glad I gave up those practices (and they are experiences that do require practice) in favor of practices that tend to tilt life more in the direction of contentment, joy, ease, and satisfaction in life. Turned out that life itself did not need to change much – it was more about my perspective on life needing a change (and how I treated myself in the context of the events of my life). 🙂

I finish this cup of coffee, on an ordinary enough Monday, beginning a routine sort of day. It’s enough. I begin again. 🙂

I woke before dawn. As daylight began to shift the darkness to light, a foggy damp morning begins to reveal itself. Colder than yesterday, but not icy, probably a good one for an early walk, I think to myself, rather unenthusiastically, as it happens.

I consider the morning, and the moment.

I sip my coffee, dressed for walking. Yesterday it took a peculiarly long time to “talk myself into it”, and strangely, I was still halfheartedly trying to excuse myself from not going for a walk, although I feel better, and enjoy my day more, when I hit the trail for a couple of miles. That time alone with my thoughts, free of media inputs and other consciousnesses, is more than valued; it is part of what keeps me mentally and emotionally well. Dodging the effort is not a helpful thing. So, out I went. I returned home feeling sated, refreshed, and accomplished; 3 miles felt comfortable. The hill is no longer daunting, it’s just a hill.

This morning, I know I’ll go. Soon. I’ll finish this coffee, and lace up my boots, grab my cane, and go. I may drive up to the path along the Columbia river, this morning. Seems a lovely morning for it.

The morning continues to lighten, as the day develops, quietly.

There is so much disappointing chaos, corruption, and madness, in the world right now. I sometimes find it terrifying. I nearly always find it disheartening. I walk in the mornings, listening to bird song and breezes, and the sound of my footsteps, and let all of that go for at least a couple miles, and a handful of pleasant moments. The weekends feel shorter without the walks. Funny how this time spent with – and for – myself can seem to “stretch time”. I breath, exhale, and relax. I feel the hint of a smile on my face.

…Nice morning for walking…

My mind wanders pleasantly to the Spring ahead. Is it too soon to plan that first camping trip? Where would I go? The coast? The forest? Will the end of March (specifically, the Vernal Equinox) be too soon? (I don’t much like camping if the evenings/nights are cold; it makes my bones ache.) The winter has been strangely mild, perhaps the Spring will be unusually warm? (It may be unusually cold…) I smile at my own eagerness, sipping my coffee and delaying the start of my walk, to consider walking elsewhere, weeks from now. I am amused, without irritation, at the implied internal conflict. This morning, I am gentle with myself, uncritical, and unhurried. There is time for meditation. Time for coffee. Time for the outside temperature to warm up another degree or two. There is even time to recharge my wearable device, so handy for tracking my mileage.

I contentedly dilly-dally over my morning coffee, savoring the morning quiet. I appreciate it, and it is enough.

Mindfulness, perspective, & sufficiency: ingredients for a lovely morning.

I finish my coffee and lace my boots. It’s time to begin again.

I woke earlier than I needed to, this morning. No reason. Maybe I’d gotten enough sleep? My anxiety started to increase a few minutes after I woke. Yesterday morning was like this, too. There are steps to take, and they do work pretty well. The key detail is that I have to actually practice those practices. Reliably. Thinking about it isn’t particularly effective; however well I know that there are practices that help reduce my anxiety, doing them is what is required. Verbs. Action. Practice.

What works? Probably a lot of things. I started here. And here. And here.

What works for me, may not be what works for you – but that may not be an obvious certainty until you’ve tried them. So… what worked (for me) yesterday? Meditation. Good self-care. Positive self-encouragement. Taking a walk. And (for me) a bonus; my Traveling Partner was out of the house for a couple hours hanging out with a friend, and I got some much needed solo time (actual solitude, spent actually at home) in which to meditate (more), read, and find an hour of real ‘cognitive stillness” (no TV, no music, no notifications, no conversation, no other human presence…just… quiet). I recognize that the profound desire for “cognitive stillness” and solitude, isn’t a thing for which we all have a uniform need. Some people would definitely not enjoy that kind of deep, stark, uninterrupted stillness, and some people find solitude, itself, quite terrifying. Finding the practices that truly support our individual needs, and our own emotional wellness, is complicated. Try a lot of things. Stick with what works. Be mindful and compassionate with others; what works for you may not work for them. We are each having our own experience. 🙂

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a minute, and sort things out.

I suspect that a considerable portion of my anxiety, right now, isn’t properly my own. I’m picking it up from relationships and circumstances, from the media news, and sort of “inheriting” the anxiety of people dear to me, as they work through their own baggage, and deal with their own deal. Nothing about that results in the anxiety being less real; it is what it is. I’m feeling feelings. The feelings are uncomfortable, and mess with my mind, and my emotional comfort. No reason to take it personally. I have practices to help with that. Practicing those works. (Talking or thinking about them, as practices, without practicing them, does not work at all. lol Just being real. There are verbs involved.)

Once I noticed the anxiety creeping in around the edges of my awareness again this morning, I immediately began taking steps. Breathing. Meditation. Checking my email. (Um, no. Not that last one. lol) A quiet cup of tea. A bit of reading. I look out the window thinking about taking a walk. The sun isn’t even up yet. It’s quite dark. So… too soon. lol Instead, I reflect on how meaningful and appreciated that few minutes walking yesterday really was.

It was a beautiful day for it. Clear, and chilly without being cold.

It felt good to be out on the trail. I was grateful for the paved path, and that I remembered my cane, which I am definitely needing for longer walks.

Blue skies and trees illuminated by sunshine became a smile on my face.

I found the walk challenging enough, between slippery bridges still wet from recent rain, and my aching ankle, and popping knee, that I only managed a (fairly gentle) 1.22 miles. It still felt great to be out there, just walking, alone with my thoughts.

Gnothi Seauton. I wisely choose not to walk a distance or paths I am not ready for, today.

The distance was shorter than I could easily cover, fairly recently, but I didn’t take the setback personally. I just enjoyed the walk I actually took. 🙂

It was enough to walk in the sunshine, smiling, watching the squirrels.

I find myself glancing through the blinds, now and then, while I write, this morning, hoping for another good day to take a walk. It looks rainy. My ankle and knee (opposite sides) ache. Letting that stop me is counterproductive for several reasons, so I maintain the intention of “getting out there” for at least a mile. I may try to do this every day…

How else will I see all the squirrels? lol

Early morning quiet, interrupted now and then by the sound of a passing car – a pleasant enough start to the day. I’m groggy. My sleep has been poor for a couple days now. Short nights. Wakeful. Restless dreams. It isn’t what it once was, to have such nights; they lack the stress I would have also experienced years ago. I let go of that, and so, a few nights of poor sleep are merely that; just a few nights of poor sleep. The weekend is almost here, and perhaps a night that isn’t followed by an alarm going off will be just the thing I need. 🙂

I found myself missing my Traveling Partner quite a lot yesterday, and also feeling a hint of playful-but-serious envy for his travels, themselves. I didn’t need any of that to be a thing, and I’m not feeling haunted by regret that I did not make it out to see my Mom in person, before her death. I am, however, feeling something… a certain restlessness, a yearning, a need to “get away” from “everything” for awhile. I need to be out among the trees. 🙂 I haven’t done much camping in the past year, and it’s something I really get a lot out of. Healthy time away. Time to reflect, without distractions. Cell phone becoming, instead, a camera. Just thinking it through got me excited about doing it.

One possible future… and one beautiful now.

I sat down in the evening, after work, and made a plan. Found some likely dates. Booked a favorite camping space in a favorite state park a few weeks from now. Booked a camping space out on the coast even a bit further out, on the calendar, as well as on the road. One trip for the peace among the trees, listening to the birds, hearing the deer step by daintily before I wake, hiking forested trails, and spending time meditating, and writing. The other trip? Beach-combing, and star-gazing. Nice. I smiled all evening, and woke up smiling this morning, too. I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in the background; it feels good to take action on personal needs in a constructive way. Not only that; I managed to plan almost-last minute, and still got a good camp site near the beach in the mid-September (still summer, in Oregon). 😀

It won’t matter about the weather, anyway… it’s about the journey.

…I’ve got to remember to get more Deet (mosquitoes) and sun-screen (omg – what do I do about that now?? I guess shop for a safer sunscreen. lol) Oh, and make a list… lol

I giggle with excitement over my coffee; truth is, I’m fairly well-prepared without lifting a finger. A routine check of my gear (unpack it, look it over for wear & tear, missing essentials, that sort of thing, and repack it), and I should be more or less ready to hit the highway. I like to hike – and I like to hike trails I can’t easily get to, trails that are too remote to be crowded, but still safe for me to hike solo. I end up camping a bunch to get to such places. lol It’s not about the camping, and as a result, I tend to camp fairly efficiently, and purposefully, most of the time. I don’t like to fuss and waste time looking for this or that just to load the car. 😀 I keep my gear ready-to-go, from about mid-March to the end of October. (I still hike in colder months, and talk long walks on nearby trails, but I don’t like sleeping/waking in the cold, so I rarely camp in winter, by preference.)

…I still catch myself musing about what I need, what I’ve got, what I may need to change about how my gear is packed, and making a mental list (or several). I’m looking forward to the time away.

I catch myself thinking about things I reliably always pack and don’t use. It’s so tempting to reduce weight by not taking those things. I already travel pretty light; I can generally carry my gear – all of it – in a single trip from the car to the campsite, if not backpacking it, then coming pretty close with a backpack and my hands full. It’s helpful to keep the load at a minimum (age, fitness, pain management…). So, why the heck am I carrying stuff I don’t use?? That sounds dumb…

…First aid kit? (haven’t needed it yet, still gotta carry one – not dumb) That’s the sort of “extra weight” I tend to carry; safety gear. A spare headlamp. Solar lights. Water filtration (state parks usually have potable water on site). Bottled water (heavy, and generally left behind in the car, once I confirm there is on site drinking water). Emergency blanket. My gear looks like I expect, at any moment, to be stranded unexpectedly in the wilderness, with no clear date of likely rescue. lol Realistically, that’s a thing that could happen, and I’m solo hiking most of the time. Why not be prepared to look after myself with some measure of preparedness and skill, in the event I am injured on a trail, or get stuck, or lost? Just saying… my “extra” weight stops being extra, when circumstances become more challenging.

Life works like that, too. Being prepared for contingencies, having a “plan B” (or C, or D, or E) can make a huge difference to our personal success in life. Being ready to pivot with new circumstances can make the difference between “getting there” at all – and “getting there” comfortably. Still, it matters to “keep the load light” and not carry so much baggage that we can’t really travel with any ease – and again, it’s a metaphor; works in life, and in camping. 🙂 Just saying; it’s worth it not to carry extra baggage. It’s worth it to bring what it utterly necessary on our journey. Having (and using) the right tools is a worthwhile investment in our time, our effort – and our preparedness for circumstances.

What’s in your tool box? Will it get the job done?

What’s in your backpack? Will you be able to reach your destination, with what you can carry?

I notice the time. Finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂