I tried Calm’s new walking meditation today. Rather than my usual drum-driven music, or the soothing indie list I put together when I was walking at 4 a.m. and found the drums too jarring, I listened to a meditation prompt with ethereal ambient music in the background. And it was…nice. I was able to maintain a pace of 3.5 mph for the full 30 minutes; apparently I don’t need drums for that. And I liked having the prompts to bring me back to the meditation when my mind wandered.
I’ve been doing pretty much this exact meditation as I walk. Focusing on the sensations in my body, and to a lesser extent the park around me. But the prompts help me concentrate on my surroundings, which I desperately need to do. I need to shift my mindfulness focus outside my body at least part of the time, because when I focus on my body I become my pain. My attention is drawn to my aching knee, the stiff tendon in the ankle I sprained, my tight hip, the adhesions surrounding my cesarean scar. It’s fascinating to me how the pain is often connected. My tight hip pulls on my lower back and my knee, but it also tugs on my abdominal scar. My ankle injury, which was localized around the ankle bone, causes pain from the tips of my toes and the arch of my foot all the way up to just below my knee. As I move, as I focus on each area of discomfort, I see just how interconnected the human body is. How one weakness affects so many areas.
In a way, this mindfulness helps me give extra care to these problem areas, so that they reap full therapeutic benefits from the exercise. But psychologically, there’s not much benefit in wallowing in physical pain for half an hour. So I extend my focus to the sky, to the trees, the birds, the leaves on the ground. It was a beautiful misty morning. I’m glad I got to experience it.
The best part? I came home calm, peaceful, and full of energy. Not exhausted and wrung out and stressed.
I still want to curate a walking playlist of uplifting energetic songs. Because some days I need a kick in the butt. But for now, walking meditation works for me. And it kills two birds with one stone — meditation and exercise — which always wins points with me.