Wednesday, 29 August 2012
hill walk mindfulness: what the water said
Two little bits of mindfulness potential whilst walking in Snowdonia. Might only interest anyone who meditates, and possibly walkers like me, of a certain age and oddness?
Sometimes my feet tend to find the best place to put themselves on their own. I'm reasonably experienced in the hills (but no tiger in such matters) and those years of walking mean my feet often find a rhythm, and it's very pleasurable to let them do it. (Doesn't work in my least favourite walking environment, chaotic piles of small and medium boulders such as you often find on the upper slopes below a summit. You have to take care there and watch every step, or you'll turn an ankle.)
When feet do their own thing like this, my thoughts are freed up, and I pay just the necessary minimum of attention to the next step. Walkers will, I hope, know what I mean.
But I can also turn this into a walking meditation, by putting my mind into (as it were) my feet, one at a time, and into the small patch of ground around them. If thoughts wander, bringing them back to those feet, there. Very calming, and it helps with fatigue and the odd bit of A.D. -derived joint pain. A peaceful day in the Carneddau on a solo walk helps get one into such a state, for short spells at least.
Then there's the water.
Standing by a waterfall - not a huge spectacular waterfall, a tourist mecca etc, just one of the many beautiful small cataracts running off the mountains after wet weather. Letting my mind stay with the water. Having to let go of conceptual thoughts about not being able to put your foot into the same river twice* or running scripts that maybe it would be worth a blog post etc.
Staying with the ever-rapidly-changing forms of the water as it falls and breaks and foams; staying with the sound. Eventually I'm there with the water, listening to what it says - which is nothing and everything.
Then it starts to rain a little. Time to move down the cwm, time to notice again the ancient joints and the need for a cup of tea. Back from now into the flow of time and events.
On reflection, I decided that the water was saying to me something like"be." No more, no less. A kind of blessing.
*a well-known, simple and I've always thought profound saying (Heraclitus, very ancient Greek) Because the word "river" is a concept, a category, and we need it to be relatively stable so we can impose meanings on the world around us. But an actual river, there right in front of you, is water on the move, ever-changing, every second, molecule by molecule. As everything is changing - even the seemingly eternal Carneddau, which were once as high as the Alps.....
with thanks to Afon Llafar.