A walking meditation?
“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”- John Muir
What I liked about book ‘Walk- the path to a more mindful life’ by Sholto Radford were that it uses lots of colour and illustration to break up the text and it was a quick and easy read, although made a lot of important points that have stuck with me. ‘Walk’ suggests a link between walking and mindfulness and suggests that by combining the two elements, the actual outcome is greater than the sum of the parts.
I enjoy walking and, having a dog, it means I walk each day, but it is very easy to get in the habit of doing the ‘same old, same old’ walk and missing the small changes that occur in nature every day. This book was a timely reminder to actually look at the world as you go by and fully appreciate the beauty in the little things. After reading the book I sought out a walk I used to do quite often towards a small wood, but I hadn’t done in a few months. Walking that path again, with the principles of the book in mind, I saw so much more than I had before which was a genuinely more enjoyable experience.
Exercises the book suggested that stuck with me were:
1) Sitting on a bench and watching the sunset/sunrise either for 30 minutes up to the whole day. Sitting there for a whole day with just my thoughts sounds very daunting, but 30 minutes sounds like a little challenge!
2) Walking very slowly with awareness of each part of your body between two set points
3) Making a point to notice the sounds and smells on your work
4) Counting each step you take from 1- 10 when walking and then starting back at 10 again.
The book also discuses the sense of feeling alive that you feel from doing a long walk, and how it can be a much needed break from the stressors of every day life. For example the physical exertion it takes to climb a mountain can leave little brain space for ruminative thoughts and instead you focus on what is here in the moment now e.g. open hills, sounds of wildlife, the sun on your face, cool water. As a result the book inspired me to try my own long walk- in September I will be walking through the Alps to raise money for charity and my aim is to take the principles of ‘Walk’ with me on my journey.
“Everybody needs beauty...places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike.” -John Muir