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.


  1. Gloria you have been busy on the keyboard. This post iis describing something that overlaps with hypnotherapy and guided imagery quite a surprising amount.

    I have taken clients on very similar "journeys" in their minds, containing remarkably similar objects and places. I wonder if there is something universal about water and walking and landscapes. Universal to humans. Probably hard wired into us over the long stretch of evolution.

  2. Interesting thoughts indeed, thanks Arkers. "Hard-wired" sounds right to me. People, not necessarily of the fanciful or poetical sort, will sit or stand and stare at waterfalls, breaking waves. And we talk of walking, going for a walk, as a separate and important activity when in fact as soon as you get up your bum and move, you are walking. So we are marking off "walking with meaning" from " getting my glasses yet again from the kitchen."

    As for pecking at the old qwerty - well, the devil finds work etc.

  3. H'm, also is there a particular reason why your hypnotherapy journeys choose to be walking by waters? By which I mean, do you deliberately choose such imagery for therapeutic effect, or do you and the client just kind of find yourselves there?

  4. Important point.

    Actually the imagery used is very specific to the client and is a reflection of the conversation / exploration we've had.

    However it seems that most people respond to the concept of a journey, and water also seems truly elemental to most people.

    But each time it is like picking a lock, and each lock is different.