<A re-post. Originally posted in August 2012.>
Like most of us, I suspect, I have no recollection of learning to walk as a youngster. I do remember learning to walk as an adult, though, & since walking on a daily basis keeps my life (mostly) on track, it may be something worth telling others about!
(There are several other postings on this blog about walking – all listed on this page here – along with some lovely quotations from people much wiser & more articulate than I.)
My 2 biggest pieces of advice to people who want a happy life are, practice gratitude & take up walking [here I linked to the posting 'Gratitude: 1 more'].
Learning to Walk:
- Start small, if you’re new to walking. Even 10 or 15 or 20 minutes a day. The longer you walk, eventually, the better!! You can work up gradually, & will probably want to, once you're hooked!
- Know that whatever direction you walk in doesn’t really matter. It’s the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other action that really does the trick. (Of course, walking in places of great beauty is a bonus, but it is not a requirement. I’ve often said if there was nowhere else to walk, I’d walk in a shopping mall & have a good time. And I hate shopping malls!)
- I highly recommend that you walk by yourself. Walking with others is lovely too, of course. It’s a companionable, social kind of activity – quite different altogether from the more solitary, contemplative kinds of walks many of us find so restorative & energizing.
- I like to walk fast – but I know we all have to develop our own way of doing everything in this life. Walking fast works for me because it gets my heart rate up & I feel as though I’m getting exercise as well as contemplative time. Ambling really just doesn’t cut it for me – but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t for others. You’ll figure out your own pace.
- Do your best to cut down on the incessant internal chatter – what some call the monkey brain (or even the “drunken monkey”), & refrain from spending precious walking time on petty internal dramas. I know I may start a walk with this kind of stuff in my head, but it gradually slows down as I remind myself “Be Here Now!” & remember to look around & notice sky, birds, trees (I’m a very big fan of trees) …whatever presents itself! (Even in cities there are birds & squirrels & sky & trees to notice – & lots of other interesting things, too!)
- You can practice gratitude while you walk! Be grateful for the walk itself, for the legs that are carrying you along, & the world that you see all around you. Walking & gratitude are great companions, or they are in my little world, anyway.
Being an incurable writer, I’ve kept a ‘Walker’s Journal’ for years now. I don’t write in it daily – just when a walk has sparked some thoughts & insights that seem worth recording. As I think I’ve said elsewhere (‘Why I Walk’), one does have interesting thoughts & insights when one walks on a regular basis (provided one does one’s best to shut down the incessant mind noise as much as possible). I not only enjoy my walks like crazy, I get quite a lot of stuff figured out!
p.s. even when I am not trying to. I don't walk with an “agenda.” I just walk…
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White, physician (1886-1973)