Do you like walking? Just walking around, without any particular purpose?
Since I’ve settled in the retreat center here in Thailand, in between my teaching sessions, I’m re-discovering the joy of walking. Just walking. Not even noticing the walking itself.
It does something to the mind. Suddenly, there is space for new ideas to arise. I’m opening up to my surroundings, noticing, in awe of small details.
Living in the city, walking usually takes me from point A to point B. In between, my mind is filled with things to do. Sometimes, I also walk and text to ‘save’ time…Do you do that too?
The urban lifestyle treats walking for walking’s sake mostly as a waste of time, or at best, a quirky luxury.
However, ‘purposeless walking’ has not been entirely forgotten. Writers like Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, and others found their inspiration and fresh ideas during long walks.
So how to rediscover the value of purposeless walking in our goal-oriented society?
Here’s are 5 main steps:
- Make time to go out for a walk, without distractions.
- No plan – follow your nose and open your eyes.
- Silence – keep your mobile phone switched off. No music. Yep.
- Solitude – do you really need company? The most inspirational walks often happen when we’re on our own.
- Mindfulness – notice thoughts but don’t dwell on them. Open up to the surroundings with all your senses – the wind on your skin, the smells and sounds around you, the colors of the sky..
Try it out and let me know how it’s going. And enjoy each step of it – the process is the goal, anyway!
And let me finish this article with an ultimate ode to purposeless walking – William Wordsworth’s famous poem Daffodils:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.