Walking is an ideal form of exercise. Our bodies are designed to walk! A walk of just 10 minutes will refresh you and get your blood flowing, 15-20 minutes will reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes and 30-40 minutes of regular walking will help your liver burn fat and improve the cognitive function of your brain, plus all the well known benefits to your lungs, muscles and bones.
Well, all that is true and good, but thinking about taking a walk because you HAVE TO EXERCISE makes it seem like a CHORE. Anything thought of as a CHORE it will definitely get relegated to the 'NOT FUN' and the 'NOT DONE' category.
What if we turn that around and think about walking as a mini-vacation in the midst of your busy day? If you 'walk for wonder' it can be just that … a mini-vacation.
Guess what? You already know how to Walk for Wonder and you've done it before, probably many times. For example, while walking to the coffee shop something catches your eye that makes you smile. Maybe it's the sloppy chocolate-smeared face of a child with an ice cream cone, a large exuberant puppy pulling it's owner along the sidewalk, or the first buds of green on the trees in springtime. That momentary glimpse of beauty or sweetness stops your whirling brain, settles your breath deep into your belly and, Voila!, an instant moment of relaxation. You buy your coffee and go back to your tasks refreshed, re-balanced and feeling in harmony with the world around you.
So…how does one Walk for Wonder and not merely for exercise?
Start walking. (natch)
Open your eyes and look around. Yes, yes, I know, your eyes are usually open when you're walking. But where are they focused? Looking at your feet while your brain swirls the day's events about? Staring blankly ahead of you as you barrel through the lunchtime crowd? Even in the busiest cityscape there is something to 'wonder' at. So…eyes open.
Check your shoulders. Are they relaxed? What about your neck? As you walk shake your shoulders a bit, roll your neck slightly, yawn. Yawning will help relax your jaw and draw in more oxygen to your lungs.
Pay attention to your feet. Feel your feet spread slightly with each footfall. Think of the soles of your feet like a drain in a sink and just open them up in your mind's eye. Imagine all your tension and stress draining out, pouring into the ground as you walk.
Check in with your senses - aka Get Sensual Baby!
I mean it...now that you're walking and your body is relaxed check in with each of your five senses:
Sight: Look around, notice how brilliantly orange that flower looks as it's caught in last rays of the sun. Take a moment to really look at it - yes, you can stop! Walking for Wonder doesn't require that you go barreling down the street.
Touch: Focus on the feel of the sun on your face, or the mist or the rain. Is the air warm, balmy, sharp, cool, cold, frosty or freezing?
Sound: Listen to the wind in the trees, the birds chirping, the sound of the cars as they pass by, the crunch of the gravel beneath your feet or the gentle bump of your neighbor's swing against the big oak tree.
Taste: Does the air have a taste to it, however mild? or maybe you're sipping water, pay attention to that, identify it, give it a name - sweet, crisp, refreshing.
Smell: There is always a smell - that crisp, fresh "after the storm" smell, the exhaust of a passing bus, the earthiness of your neighbor's freshly mowed grass.
Come up with your own descriptions as you walk and tune into your senses…go on, wax poetic for just a bit.
Now that you've relaxed your body and checked in with your five senses you can do a bit of brisk walking if you like. If not, save your brisk walking for another time, remember, this is Walking for Wonder -- Not for Exercise!
One last step. Just as the flower has graced you with beauty and the breeze has brought you to your senses, now I ask that you pay the favor forward and smile at a passerby. Just a simple acknowledgement of their presence. Make a connection, however brief. Appreciate the joy that simple human interaction might bring to somebody in the middle of their busy day.
That's it, you're done!
By the way, the sneaky thing about Walking for Wonder is that it also gives you the benefit of (drum roll please) … exercise.
May all your walks be filled with Wonder! Then share the Wonder by leaving a comment below describing a moment that woke up your senses or fed your soul.