“It is solved by walking.”
Walking is nourishing for the spirit. We know this. It lifts serotonin levels, gives you a whack of sunshine and real weather, gets the ol’ bones creaking. On top of that, it’s famously good for nutting out problems. Writers and thinkers have been attached to the pursuit for donkey’s years, from Wordsworth’s transcendent strolls to the Brontë sisters stomping across the moors.
There’s plenty of excuses not to go for a walk these days. Between a milk puppy who is more on the boob than off it and a toddler who is very set on the direction mummy doesn’t want to go (on the road, in the river), not to mention hauling the Titanic sized nappy bag, it’s easy to be lazy when it comes to getting out and about.
Perhaps it’s like all those other things that are good for us and help us. Our little self sabotager is too strong. They say no, too tired, too busy. That’s why sometimes you need to schedule the walk in. Hours and minutes don’t work for mamas, so I need triggers. Baby won’t nap? Toddler getting antsy? Time for a change of scenery.
Edmund White wrote a book on the flaneur: the person who walks not to get somewhere, but to be walking. He set the scene in Paris, but I find nature best kicks you into that mode. The mind turns off. I become less my thoughts and so more myself. As light, as fixed, as purposeful as nature. Even better if I can stop and make a quick drawing, bringing myself into my body and my present, and gifting myself that extra time to witness and be. I don’t always solve my problems, but I get an awful good dose of perspective, and that’s often equal to solving them.
Of course, it can be hard to get the time to be a flaneur, particularly a solitary flaneur. My partner doesn’t get home till well after the sun goes down, and of course, he has projects of his own. Walking meditation is a solution. It’s like a double shot of calm, and you only need ten minutes to do it. Thich Nhat Hanh, as ever, has a wonderful resource for walking meditation for beginners (short version here). Unlike other meditation practices, he actually recommends experiencing it with children. It’s no better or worse to walk with the children’s interruptions, and there is no reason to drop the mindfulness. It’s just a different experience. Something that helps bring the children to the party is to collect treasures for a nature display. This is something we do in our house instead of flower arrangements, to reflect the changing seasons. I find taking that short outside break resets my daughter, lifts her mood but also calms her down. So not only are my problems resolved by walking, but the crisis of over or understimulated children is brought into balance.
I’d like to direct you to a lovely blog I came across recently: The Printed Land. Ian talks about so much more than walking in his descriptions of his daily constitutional. Beautiful stuff.
Now go take a walk. You’ll feel better for it. x