To be fair, my outdoor walks were never more than twenty minutes because with fatigue, came a lack of balance and I fell more easily. I therefore was always careful to not be gone too long.
I do miss it though. My walks were fortunate enough to be along a Lake Nipissing and filled with beauty.
Walking for me and I expect for many, is a form of informal meditation, a time to figure things out. There's a connection to self and to nature, not to mention one of the most approved forms of exercise.
What I have learned through my meditation course and various readings on mindfulness is that there really is a way to mediate while walking. I expect for those who say they do not have time to do either - this is a way to make it part of your life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the good news is that ten minutes a day is deemed to be very helpful.
"Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Some studies show that exercise can work quickly to elevate depressed mood in many people. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache." Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Some of my readers have said they would love to meditate; however they find it very difficult to sit still and keep thoughts out. Meditation does not mean you keep thoughts out. You acknowledge the thought and let it go, and it does take practice to quiet the mind. Walking can be a great start for those who have the difficulty of not being able to be still.
"Most people in the West associate meditation with sitting quietly, but traditional Buddhist teachings identify four meditation postures: sitting, walking, standing and lying down. All four are a valid means of cultivating a calm and clear mindfulness of the present moment. The most common meditation posture after sitting is walking. In meditation centers and monasteries, indoor halls and outdoor paths are often built for walking meditation. On meditation retreats, regular walking meditation is an integral part of the schedule. In practice outside of retreats, some people will include walking as part of their daily meditation practice – for example, ten or twenty minutes of walking prior to sitting, or walking meditation instead of sitting." http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/books-articles/articles/instructions-for-walking-meditation/
Full instructions can be found on this website.
Furthermore walking is a way to calm the mind when little else can. Have you ever had a disagreement with somebody and one of you has stormed off to "go for a walk"; and then came home calm, cool, and ready to talk sensibly about the topic? That in itself is a form of meditation, a form of coming back to oneself. Walking it off brings clarity and perspective.
For those of you who can, I ask you to walk today for at least ten minutes. Inside or out, it doesn't matter, both are effective. Notice your breathing, feel your feet hit the floor or ground and feel the swing of your leg as your gait is adjusting to your stride. If you're outside connect only with yourself and nature keeping an intention present in your mind.
Walking is good for the soul...and the soles!
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche