Go on, take a hike!

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Our time is filled with input. We stare at screens of many kinds– desktop computers, laptops, phones, iPads, televisions – being inundated by someone else’s thoughts, a type of pre-programmed programming.  We become sedentary in body and in mind where our bodies cease to move through a sensory environment and our minds become one-way streets, focused in only one direction. We are unconnected, dull and unimaginative. As a writer, I realized this was affecting not only the way I write, but also how I write. I needed to break away.

One simple way to reconnect with my originality, imagination and creativity was to physically move. I’m reminded of what Nietzsche once said, “Only thoughts conceived by walking have value.” As a writer, I need valuable thoughts!

Yes, it would be a great to step away from the weight of what was keeping me sedentary, staring at a computer screen, a laptop, with an intermittent check of my smartphone. I realize how the time is spent and as if to stop it for a moment, I divert my attention with a glance outside. I wanted to look closer, to feel a weak sun stream, to touch a frosty leftover leaf pile, to hear silence. It was time I hit a “pause” button to welcome self-care.

007I dressed for the outdoors and took a walk, working my way along a windy patch through the woods with the chilly air ushering me along. Filtered sunlight, snapping tree branches underfoot, breaking thin ice coating a mix of mud and grass served my attention. It became a meditation, really, marked by present moments that began with a walk that turned brisk, a breathe that turned deeper.

Perhaps the most important thing we can give to ourselves is the rest between our deep breaths.

My steps were purposeful, my gait swift not from running away from something, but running toward a basic need we have—to connect—by observing our surroundings and paying attention to the organic–the cool air we breathe, the bare landscape, the sound of strong winds penetrating ear drums. Through our senses, we can make meaningful connections not only with ourselves but also to our surroundings.

013I found the decision to step away from the barrage of screen input to not only be the most difficult to face but also to be the most important step. Difficult because it was easy to succumb to a screen’s unending programming, yet most important because once I was on my way, I became mindful of something I didn’t necessarily leave behind, but that I was engaged in the present and hopeful for what was ahead.

Upon my return, a true peace replaced a disharmony and calm took root. I quote one of my favorite writers, Henry David Thoreau, “Me thinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” And how one’s own thoughts can be the most rewarding way to self-connect, to write with imagination and originality.

So, go ahead, rise and get dressed for a walk outside. Welcome it as your first step to mindfulness and a few minutes of meditation.

Do you take walks? If so, do you find them as mind-clearing as I do?