Everybody walks in different ways at different times. Sometimes people walk as the easiest way to get from one place to another. Other times they walk to exercise, to de-stress, to think (or not to think!). Sometimes it’s a social event, where you catch up with a friend – or walking your four-legged friend.
And yet some people are bored by walking. They find it pointless, and dull.
How about you? How do you take your walks?
Do you set your watch, plug in your headphones and power off vigorously? Do you amble along, noticing what’s happening in your neighborhood? Or do you grit your teeth and count the minutes until you’re done?
Is walking an endurance test, a necessary evil or a pleasurable event?
My husband didn’t enjoy walking when we met. Walking was what he did when the car was in the shop. It was merely a means of transportation – the way to get from point A to point B.
Our first nature walk together started with a peek at his watch and ended with a satisfied sigh at the end. He happily reported to me how long the walk had taken and got ready to get back in the car. When I asked him what he’d seen, he drew a blank. He hadn’t noticed a thing except his own feet as he marched along!
We now take purposefully mindful walks. We invented a game we to remind ourselves to take notice of where we are – “Animal, Vegetable and Mineral”. Our ‘task’ is to notice three things to share from those categories – a blossom, an enterprising bug, a delicious shade of green.
This keeps us centered on where we are – and it allows us to take in the walk with more than our feet. Our eyes are searching for treasures to share, our ears are open to birdsong, our noses take in the smell of the plants, our hands are open to the caress of the wind.
If we are having a mindful walk, we also aim to keep our focus on what we are doing. If we speak, it is about what we are experiencing in the moment. There’s no talk about work, or plans, projects or chores – just gentle observations about what we’re experiencing.
We sometimes pass other walkers who are deeply engrossed in conversations about celebrities, television shows, dinner plans. Although walking and talking about mindless subjects is a great way to make the time pass, it diminishes the act of the walk in a small way.
When you walk you are there, walking, now. Not jumping ahead to the next meal or thinking back to rehash an earlier conversation. The only time that we actually have is the present moment – so experience it fully.
If you find walking a bore, it might be because you are thinking too hard. Try changing your focus so that you experience the walk more with all your senses. Walking is good for our bodies AND our spirits.