Pacing—walking repeatedly over the same ground—often feels ineffably good while I’m doing it, but then I forget about it for ages, so I thought I’d write about it here.

I don’t mean just going for an inefficient walk—it is somehow different to just step slowly in a circle around the same room for a long time, or up and down a passageway.

I don’t know why it would be good, but some ideas:

  1. It’s good to be physically engaged while thinking for some reason. I used to do ‘gymflection’ with a friend, where we would do strength exercises at the gym, and meanwhile be reflecting on our lives and what is going well and what we might do better. This felt good in a way that didn’t seem to come from either activity alone. (This wouldn’t explain why it would differ from walking though.)
  2. Different working memory setup: if you pace around in the same vicinity, your thoughts get kind of attached to the objects you are looking at. So next time you get to the green tiles say, they remind you of what you were thinking of last time you were there. This allows for a kind of repeated cycling back through recent topics, but layering different things into the mix with each loop, which is a nice way of thinking. Perhaps a bit like having additional working memory.

I wonder if going for a walk doesn’t really get 1) in a satisfying way, because my mind easily wanders from the topic at hand and also from my surrounds, so it less feels like I’m really grappling with something and being physical, and more like I’m daydreaming elsewhere. So maybe 2) is needed also, to both stick with a topic and attend to the physical world for a while. I don’t put a high probability on this detailed theory.