Walking is not about counting minutes and steps but about being present, alert and open to experience.
I love walking. It is probably the easiest way to get moving. The main thing is to push yourself hard enough to get out of the house. When you are out there, comfortably dressed, all the rest comes easy.
My suggestion: silence your phone, do not wear earphones, be free from all gadgets that require your attention. Take time for yourself!
The information about the benefits of movement is available for everybody. It is widely known that people need to move or get engaged in some physical activity at least 30 minutes every day. Well, it is really a minimum but a good indicator to start with.
Once you are outside, try to avoid noise. Choose quiet, calm places such as a park, a forest, the coast, the country side. It would also be good not to walk on roads shared with cars, you miss a big part of the fun! What is the fun then?
Fun, pleasure and joy come when you don’t focus on quantity such as measuring the length of the distance covered and time spent. Also counting steps and minutes makes you focus on result rather than what you are actually doing and where. Much more rewarding is to focus on the activity itself -walking. I am talking about walking meditation.
When you are meditating, you are in the present moment. You let your thoughts be as they are, you do not follow them. Walking helps to stay focussed.
You are fully present here and now. You notice your footsteps, how your entire body works in a certain rhythm, how you breathe. You feel fresh air entering your lungs while inhaling – what a wonderful feeling it is to experience the freshness of the air! And then you exhale. Keep your focus of breathing for a while to get to used to the walking rhythm.
You notice your muscles working, maybe even some slight tensions once in a while, when you walk too fast. But it is ok. Slow down again and feel the difference. Notice your hands moving freely in harmony with the rest of the body.
After some time you start feeling more relaxed, the worrying thoughts that followed you, have dissolved and a deep calmness arrives instead. Inner calmness that makes you feel in peace with yourself.
Now you can peacefully observe the nature that surrounds you. Open your senses, use them to reach out and communicate with it. Look, smell, listen, touch, feel… There is so much beauty around you! Feel the sunrays on your face, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun. Smile.
Listen to the birds, to the wind. Try to follow the melody, the rhythm of the sound. Let it resonate in you. Let the cells of your body vibrate in the same rhythm with nature. Take time to experience it fully. You may even make a stop, sit down and close your eyes.
When you continue your walk, observe the colours in nature, the light and shadows the sun brings. Smell nature. Find out how the earth smells after a light rain or in early spring. Discover the whole new world full of life that is hidden in the grass, away from asphalt and roads. Stay quietly there, just be.
Walking meditation gives you an enormous boost of energy, joy and feeling of happiness for the rest of the day. It feels almost as if you have been away. Far away.
Sometimes you can take a camera with you to take pictures of the objects you notice. It can be a beautiful flower or a tree, a colourful leaf or a wonderful cloud in the sky. Sunset and sunrise are always worth capturing, the beauty of bright colours creates strong positive emotions that become alive every time you look at the picture.
You can also take a notebook with you and write down what you notice and how you feel during your walk. You can start a walking diary to memorise all wonderful moments you experience. Some people get extremely inspired while walking.
Practicing walking meditation you may be surprised how time flies without you really noticing. You get into the flow, which means you enjoy the activity, walking, and not the outcome (kilometres covered, time passed). When you are experiencing flow, you get completely absorbed in sensing and observing. It is you, and you alone, being present here and now. Satisfied and happy.
I am tired of noise. Everywhere I go there is noise. Even while relaxing in my garden, I hear a constant noise of traffic and planes passing over my head. The noise is not always very loud but loud enough to be noticed. Some people say that they are fine living in the city and that they are so used to noise that it doesn’t disturb them anymore. That unfortunately doesn’t mean that noise has no effect on our health.
Background noise has spread to every sphere of our lives and become so dominant almost everywhere that we have started to take it as the norm: as something natural, a normal part of our daily lives. We even add more noise by constantly listening to radio, music, TV. As we allow noise to enter our head and brains through earphones so many hours each day, the question arises whether we can even tolerate real silence. Do we even know how it sounds?
I have looked for silence for many years and feel comfortable and completely relaxed only when there is no disturbing sounds around me. Also no TV, no radio, no music. Yes, even no music. I voluntarily choose not to listen to anything in my phone. There is no music in my car when I am driving, no constant TV sound running in my home. I also do not need to talk much. There is so much beauty and relaxing freedom in being silent. I feel my senses resting.
I have asked people what is the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning and get out of bed. Many of them answered that they usually go the kitchen, switch on the radio (or TV) and make coffee.
I skip the first part and usually open the front door instead. I step out, take some deep breaths and then go the kitchen and make coffee. It is such a wonderful feeling to step outside and take a deep breath; to feel the cold or warmth, the wind or rain; to greet the sun. I notice the birds singing, smell fresh soil, grass and flowers, I hear the wind. These are the sounds of nature. They are not tiring, they do not upset, they make me happy.
I have found my sacred place where I can relax, reload my batteries and find my balance back. It is called nature. It can be a forest, a coast, a nature area away from towns, factories, supermarkets, beaches, hotels and people. A place where I can be quiet and hear the silence. The silence I have fallen in love with.
So next time you go walking in the nature, take your earphones off. Slow down and walk in silence. Discover that magical, completely relaxing feeling of being silent in the silent environment. Let the sounds of nature become dominant: listen to the wind in the trees, to the rain in the leaves, to the waves at the coast… Become aware of the beautiful life around you. It is still there. Even now. You have to make the first move to reach it.
Oh how much I like the sunny forest full with a sweet blueberry smell full of light! How very appealing it is to follow its invitation and step into this magnificent temple, every time different, surprising, unique setting.
Cool and fresh in the morning, warm and welcoming during the day, mysterious and dark at night. Forest gives us such a positive feeling every time, even a short walk in a shady greenery changes our mood, makes us feel happy and grateful.
Come, don’t be afraid. Step inside and be still. Take time to observe the life around you. Forest lives and breathes! It has its own colours, smells and sounds. The wind sings its songs and the mossy soil smells different in a warm sunny day than after a rain. Every moment is different. Everything is in movement.
Forest is a place to be. Just you and nobody else. Alone with yourself. However, remember that you are there one of the characters in the woods together with so many other living souls! Be polite, be humble. Don’t disturb anybody with your presence. There is enough space for everybody.
Admire the beauty of the nature. Observe, listen, touch. Trees are there like silent giant friends surrounding you, guiding you towards the light, towards the inner harmony. They hold you gently and swing your senses until you find back your balance.
Stay silent and wait until a deep calmness enters your body, takes away the sorrow and heals you.
Breathe. Breathe deeply and open up to accept this beautiful gift that the forest offers you. This gift is priceless. You only need to learn the language of the forest to understand the wind and the trees.
Whisper together with the trees, sing with them. Open your soul and let this rhythm and melody enter you. Take the song with you when you leave the forest. It is pure love that you receive when you entered the forest with the open heart.