I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise. I’m quite unfit at the moment and heading to the gym is an absolute struggle. I’ve come to realise though that exercise isn’t about a struggle with inertia, it’s about my battle with self-love. Thanks to an introduction to MSC last year, I’ve learned to acknowledge this and my disdain for exercise is softening.
Nowadays I choose to deliberately exercise my body because I care a bit more about it. I’ll never be a tri-athlete (and don’t want to!) but at least I’m out there doing something. I’m very grateful to live in a neighbourhood that borders a beautiful lake. There’s a walking track all the way around the lake that meanders for well over 10 kilometres. In an effort to find my groove, I head off on the track most mornings to walk as many kilometres as I can fit in. I must confess though, I still battle with the process at times and have caught myself constantly checking the clock to see how long I have been trekking our lakeside path.
Last week I decided to try something different.
I decided to practice mindful walking, and it was incredible.
I started on the path with my head tilted downwards slightly. I found that helped me to clear my mind and focus on the actions of my body instead. I was conscious of my breathing – the effort of each inward and outward breath and a dry sensation in my mouth as I increased my pace. I became aware of the rhythm of my arms as they swayed back and forth in time with the opposite leg. I felt the twinge of my bung left knee. It has clearly suffered with my excess weight but on this walk, rather than berate myself for damaging my body, I worked with the pain – acknowledged it and noticed how my entire body works to accommodate my mild discomfort. I began to appreciate the wonders of my body and its ability to move me along the path. I stayed in this mindful body focused state for some time. I had a focus on all my moving parts rather like an apprentice mechanic has when they build their first engine.
Once I had developed a sense of self, I decided to be mindful of my surroundings. This proved to be quite a sensory experience and provided a world of pure delight.
I have lived by this lake for two years now, and this was the first time I had ever heard the water actually lapping up on the shore. I listened and I heard the waves. The sound was beautiful.
The wind howls through the trees edging the path and it sounds like a fighter-jet is approaching. The sound is much more immediate than the feel of the breeze on my body. It’s a feeling of anticipation mixed with joy to be amongst it all, and I can feel the goose bumps rising on my skin to protect me from the wind. It’s an anti-climax really. The humming sound is far more impressive than the whirling of the wind.
I’m mindful of the scenery. I notice that the sky isn’t blue but greyish in colour. The reeds in the water are a mix of greens and browns, and the lapping waves leave a frothy trail in the water as each wave rolls back from the shore. I can see that a buoy has washed ashore and I wonder what tales it could tell about life on the lake.
I’ve never seen such a variety of birdlife. I’ve taken the swans and the pelicans for granted – they’re an institution on our lake. Today though, they are joined by egrets, plovers, ducks and sandpipers. There’s even a kookaburra laughing at me! Why have I never noticed them before? It is a symphony.
I have become mindful of my place in this beautiful location. Finally I am grateful for the walking experience I have every single day. I am aware that I am living in my own natural movie state…
- Cue the wind.
- Cue the birds.
- Start the water feature we call the lake.
- Amplify the squelch of your feet as you take each step.
- Crank up the summer rain and let it tingle your skin with every tiny drop.
I feel connected to everything around me. I feel joyous. I am so grateful that I can walk this particular path.
I have lost all sense of time.