When I see the word “bumble” two things come into my mind. The first is the bumble bee something that I was always loved watching ever since I was a kid hanging out in my back garden. The second is an action of just wandering around in contentment just looking at anything that I like the look of. I suspect that toddlers do this more often than adults and I think that is a shame. Bumbling around requires times which most people don’t feel they have but it also requires a lack of purpose whilst spending that time. I guess you could say the purpose is to not have a purpose which is of course a contradiction.
I recently went on a work half day out where as well as having a shared meal we also went for a walking meditation. Now this is not something I had done before so I was curious to see how it was done. My standard way of thinking and dealing with anxiety is to move around but I also go for a walk just to have a break from sitting at a computer screen. I guess the latter is more akin to the walking meditation, I do it to have a change, clear my head and I will often have a camera in my hand to take photos of things that catch my eye, more often or not a flower. Anxious movement is about me focusing on the issue and trying to come to a conclusion and falls more into the stimming category.
We set off on our walking mediation in single file. We were encouraged just to listen to the things that were going on around us, to look at the things around us, and to be aware of the feelings that might come up for us as we were doing it. We had to walk at half our usual speed and some people found this easier to do than others. I found that most of my concentration went on walking slowly at first because I found it not only difficult to maintain a half pace but also to keep balance when walking slowly. I tried counting my paces and only stepping forward on the even count but I also wanted to keep the walk smooth. Transferring my weight from the back foot to the forward foot tended to be the time that I wobbled and so I adjusted my walk keeping my weight on the back foot as long as possible and planting my front foot before transferring the weight. This was how I was taught to walk in Tai Chi and I suspect it is standard for martial arts because it is much more stable.
We stopped and did a standing mediation giving us a chance to let go of things we had become away of and then we set off in line again, again reducing our pace by another half. I decided to do this by reducing my stride by a half but I am not sure if speed was the point. The order we set off in the second time changed which I found unsettling but decided it didn’t really matter (although it did of course within my ASD framework). I found some people were walking too fast and I felt pressurised to move more quickly but quickly enough I focused on my little bubble and forgot about the rest. Once again, groups can be troublesome for me but at the same time it is good to share an activity because then you have real people to talk about it with. I can’t really tell you what I got from the activity because I can’t remember anymore. At the time though, I was able to reflect and gain insights.
Having written about the walking meditation, it seems it isn’t the same as bumbling along. The mediation feels more restrained and hard work compare to wandering along the roads and lanes. Bumbling seems much easier and more freeing but perhaps they should be used for different things. I keep reading that people who put structure into their lives are happier, this seems counterintuitive to me but I can’t deny that writing down a list of things to do and ticking them off does increase my happiness. Structured activities can be rewarding and pinning them down can make it more easy for me to do them so perhaps I should try the walking meditation more often.
I think it is about balance really both structured walking and bumbling have their place in my life. There is certainly nothing wrong with treating myself by allocating a half hour trying to take photos of bumble bees. I may structure it into my day, but the bees make sure that there is nothing predictable about it except knowing that any decent shots will be few and far between. They just bumble around too much.