Why walking is so important

walking with kids
Walking with kids in the Italian Alps

“There’s no sadness that, as you walk, it doesn’t fade and slowly melt away.
(Romano Battaglia)

When we walk, our foot comes into contact with the ground, only to detach from it and return shortly afterwards, the rhythm is fluid and harmonious. Our mind also follows the rhythm of the moves and creates thoughts.

Walking together with children is a fantastic activity: it is free; it brings souls closer because they can chat with us; it makes them experience the effort of moving; it allows them to see the beauty of nature or even of a beautiful city; it gives them the satisfaction of having reached a particular place with their legs; it helps them to believe in their potential.

Walking with a friend or partner helps to feel in harmony, it implies a deep sharing of both body and soul.

Walking alone is an initiatory path, a way to listen to one’s thoughts flowing, to one’s body that requires proper movement. It is a beneficial form of meditation.

Meditation while walking is a common practice in many cultures: it combines physical and spiritual exercise.

For example, the Toltec Shamans from Mexico practice the so-called “attention walks” in which, with special exercises of conscious direction of the gaze, one supports and directs the attention away from the continuous flow of thoughts that crowd the mind.

Another example is the medieval pilgrimage: pilgrims, on foot, walk and enhance spirituality which brings them closer to God. It is a journey for the spirit as well as for the body.

The most famous example is given by Zen Buddhism, which turned walking into a real form of meditation on the move.

Walking is an exercise for body and mind.

“Walking implies that with every step some aspect of the world changes and that something in us changes too.” (Italo Calvino)

Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise, able to set in motion a large number of muscles and is an activity that we can do easily without having to find time for the gym because we know that time is never enough!

If we walk with awareness, we will see that we will feel our movements better, we will understand the relationship between our body and the surrounding environment and we will be amazed by it! Try walking aimlessly for even 30-40 minutes a day, the body will be looser and the mind freer.

Don’t you find the time? Organize your daily commuting time adequately, maybe you can replace an errand done by using the car with errand done by walking, or you might take the children to school or the music/gymnastics/etc. lessons on foot.

Especially when we are upset and angry, walking helps us to find peace of mind, while walking we can calm our daily thoughts and worries. We can overcome anxiety and find serenity through the technique of mindfulness.

Meditation walking

woman-in-brown-sleeveless-dress-and-blue-jeans-standing-on-906106_Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels
Photo by Noelle Otto

“Meditation walking means enjoying the walk, walking not to get somewhere, but simply to walk. The aim is to be rooted in the present and, be aware of breathing and walking, by enjoying every step. So we must shake off anxieties and worries, not think about the future, not think about the past, but just enjoy the present moment. We can do this by holding a child’s hand. We walk one step at a time as if we were the happiest people in the world. We walk all the time, but we usually do it running, and in this way, we leave traces of anxiety and pain on Earth. When we walk, we should do it in such a way that we only leave footprints of peace and serenity. We can all do it, as long as we really want to. (by Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step)

Meditation while walking is a fast and straightforward way to take care of ourselves. So here are a few simple steps to get started:

1. Become the master of your time.

I know, it’s hard to find the time when you’re working full time, and you also have to take care of your family and home, but it’s fundamental that we reorganize our time to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to this activity. Set aside your phone, TV and computer for a moment, make time for yourself.

2. Enjoy nature.

Get out of the office, open the front door, get out of the car and look for nature around you, even a city park will do. Focus on your every single step and breath, perceive your surroundings and feel your emotions and sensations. Observe the environment around you and stop to admire a flower, a tree, a bee at work.

3. Be aware of your breath.

When you walk, follow your breath, try to observe it as it slowly enters and exits your lungs, observe your feelings. Feel how the breath acts on your body, try to perceive its flow and feel its deep connection with the rest of your body. This is awareness.

4. Walk slowly.

When you meditate while walking, avoid doing it at a fast pace. On the contrary, live the moment in all its sweetness, slowly, ideally savouring every single step. If we can see it, there is beauty everywhere. It is enough to slow down a little bit to admire the beauty that surrounds us.

5. There is no arrival, only the here and now.

We always think about the past or the future. Please don’t do it and don’t let your worries get in the way. Keep the awareness of the present moment, of the only authentic moment, the here and now.

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk, every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it…but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill…Thus if one just keeps walking, everything will be all right.”
(Bruce Chatwin)

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