Climbing: a kind of meditation

I’ve been thinking a lot about not thinking.

Okay, alright, I know that does sound kind of weird. But what I mean is that, as somebody with an anxious mind, prone to manic depressive swings that vary from having a chattering excitable mind that won’t shut up, to being deep, deeeeeply thoughtful and sad in that really sad kind of way, I really have to think about how to just stop.

And stopping is actually really hard for some people. For most people, I think.

I once did a 10 day silent meditaiton retreat on top of a mountain in Thailand. Didn’t get much out of it. Have tried the whole meditation class, yoga, all the kinds of things where you empty your mind and sometimes I’ve been like.. “YES. It’s work-oh no nevermind.”

It’s just not for me.

But you know what I’ve realised? Climbing. Climbing actually does it for me. I find that after not climbing for a while, I feel worse. I feel *full*(?) – like too full of thoughts, kind of.

But when I’m on the wall, when I’m working out the next move, trying not to fall, thinking about placing my feet, my mind is free of everything else. I’m not freaking out about rejection, stressing out about my workload – none of it. It’s bliss. It really is.

I find that my creativity flows so much more freely after being on the wall, after being able to forget about the anxieties of everyday life.


So spending the past few months not climbing has been a real struggle. In a physical sense, of course. Just missing out on exercise has certainly had an impact on my happiness. But on a deeper, more psychological level, too. I haven’t been able to have those 5 or so hours a week of switching off – leaving me feeling a little more emotionally raw and anxious than usual. Climbing is my meditation.

So, if you’re struggling to meditate, if yoga doesn’t help you in a psychological way – don’t just think you can’t switch off. Maybe it’s time to take up bouldering or roped climbing. You just need to find your own way of switching off.

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