MUSCATINE, Iowa–Often, the term mindfulness evokes an experienced yoga practitioner sitting perfectly still, mind empty, completely in the moment. This image can fill people with dread, as achieving that level of calm can seem unrealistic. For those who would like to incorporate mindfulness into their lives but do not find traditional meditation appealing, Jennifer Livermore, a part time faith community nurse at First Presbyterian Church, has an alternative, walking meditations. This summer, Livermore will offer walking meditations for anyone in the community to take part in each Wednesdays as well as on select Sundays.
Each week, Livermore leads a walking meditation at a different location in Muscatine, helping participants discover many of the best spots in Muscatine to connect with nature. Livermore shared participants, “have consistently, almost weekly, told me how much they enjoy seeing different parts of Muscatine.”
At the start of the practice, Livermore reads a short meditation written by Reverend Doctor Pam Saturnia, the pastor at First Presbyterian. Before Saturnia went on sabbatical, she challenged her congregation to walk and to engage with the community, especially though group meals.
After hearing the week’s meditation, the participants can walk in the selected area. An activity designed to work for people of many activity levels, walkers can go at their own pace so that they feel comfortable throughout the whole experience. Walkers may continue their meditation quietly on their own. Alternately, they may walk with others, either enjoying companionable silence or talking about the week’s meditation.
Following the isolation of the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Livermore has found the walking meditations bring people together in a refreshing and welcome way. “We’ve been able to connect through the meditation, with each other, and learn a little bit along the way.”
Throughout the month of August, Livermore will lead several more meditations in a variety of places:
Aug. 3, 5:30 p.m., Kent Stein Park Diamond 14.
Aug. 10, 5:30 p.m. Discovery Park Learning Center.
Aug. 14, 4:30 p.m. Riverfront Park playground, watermelon snack offered.
Aug. 17, 5:30 p.m. Muscatine High School track.
Aug. 24, 5:30 p.m. Fuller Park playground.
Aug. 31, 5:30 p.m. Pollinator Park.
Open to the public, Livermore welcomes any walkers interested in connecting with nature; taking care of themselves body, mind and spirit; and in reaping the mental and physical benefits of getting active and socializing to experience a walking meditation for themselves. “It’s a way for us to challenge ourselves to get out of what we usually do and try something new and different,” she encouraged. If you would like more information about First Presbyterian Church’s upcoming walking meditations or to see photos from previous walking meditations, Livermore encourages checking out the First Presbyterian Church Muscatine Facebook page.