I tend to be the type of person who thinks that if I am going to devote time to being active, I might as well just run, because it is a “better workout.” When I say “better,” I mean that I sweat more, feel sore in the morning and essentially burn more calories. But this week’s Be Better Challenge taught me that walking not only provides exercise but also a time to connect, meditate, think, and observe.
Connect: I have traveled to many countries where people seem to walk everywhere. They walk to the store, to school, to work, everywhere. Often, when I return to the United States, I am sad to see so few people on the sidewalks. That includes me, as I walk out the front door and head straight for my car. The only time my feet really hit the sidewalk of my neighborhood is during my occasional runs. Well, this week I felt connected to my neighbors; I learned where dogs will bark as I pass. I met Darline, who is the crossing guard for the local schoolkids. I talked to a women who loved the color of my dog’s coat, and I said good morning to a couple of neighbors starting their workday dressed in suit in tie.
Meditate: Sometimes my meditations were organized. Sometimes I would focus on my breathing; other times I tried to notice my body as I walked. For example, I would feel my feet hit the earth. Meditation has always been difficult for me, so these focused meditative moments only lasted a minute, but I tried.
Think: I took a couple of walks with my dog, Tucker, in the morning. He was happy and so was I, because by the time I got back to the house 20 minutes later, I had taken a moment to give some thought to my day before it happened. I prioritized the day and the long task list awaiting me. Taking the time to think about my day before it happened made me feel like I wasn’t just surviving through my day, but that I had a purpose for my actions.
Observe: My husband and I moved to our house and neighborhood a little over a year ago. Therefore, on my walks, it seems as though I notice a new house and garden every time I stroll the block. I tried to take a moment to notice the sounds and sights while I walked. Most of the time it is easy to take a walk and remain in your head the whole time; you never become present. I tried to observe the temperature on my skin: Was it sunny, was there a breeze, what about a light mist? I also tried to observe the noises: I heard birds, cars and people talking.