Trees by Alan Johnston seen while walking - article by Dr Anne Malatt

Walking…our way back home

- Photography by Alan Johnston
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I love to walk. Walking brings me out of my head and into my body and just a few minutes of walking with myself can completely change the way I am thinking and feeling. If I am feeling stuck, moving my body shifts the energy I was stuck in, and problems that seemed insurmountable are no longer so big…in fact, often the answer becomes clear…

When we are in need of a break, we often think we have to sit and rest, because we feel so tired.

But sitting is not the only way of taking a break; sometimes our body just needs to move.

Our bodies are designed to move. We work hard, but in Medicine a lot of that work can be sedentary, with our bodies sitting in fixed positions for considerable periods of time. We can also absorb the emotions and energy of the people we work with who may be sick, suffering, and miserable, as many of our patients are, and if we keep piling on more and more work without taking a break, our own reaction to the emotional state of others can build up until it spills up and over and out onto the next unsuspecting person who walks in the door!

It can feel great to take our body for a walk. Even 10-15 minutes can make an enormous difference to how we feel, and if we walk for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunchtime, and 10 minutes after work, that is our recommended 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise right there! No effort at all, and a chance to be with ourselves, or to come back to ourselves if we have become a bit lost in the energy that has come at us through the day.

Walking brings us out of our work spaces and into the world. We can be in nature, with the sky, trees, flowers, birds, and with people who don’t need us right now. It can help us regain our perspective on life, seeing that there is more to life than what happens in our offices and surgeries and hospitals, and that we live in a whole world, of which we are an integral part.

The way we walk is what really matters though.

The purpose of this walking is not to lose weight, get fit, tick boxes or anything but to reconnect with ourselves and our bodies and to move with them, rather than fighting them, overriding them, ignoring them, and all the other things we have been trained to do.

If we walk with awareness, feeling ourselves in our bodies from the top of our heads to the tips of our fingers and toes, our cells come alive and we can become very connected with ourselves as we move. This can help us feel if there is anything going on inside us that is unresolved and needs our attention, or it can just help us feel how lovely we are.

Walking in this gentle awareness, feeling at one with ourselves, can help us to feel at one with nature and the people around us too, so that we don’t feel so isolated, so alone, so separate from people and life.

Walking with awareness, with our mind focusing on what our body is doing, rather than running away with us as it so often does, can help us to appreciate this beautiful body we have been given to care for in this life, no matter what size, shape or condition it is in. And this appreciation can help us to care for our body more dearly, and then bring this appreciation and care to all the other bodies we care for too!

15 COMMENTS

  1. I also love to walk but I no longer walk as I did when I believed it was all about heart rate and burning calories. As you say Anne, it is the way I walk that matters and determines how I am left feeling. As a nurse I know how important the way I walk is to how I feel during a shift and at the end of the day. When I walk feeling my body move and thinking about what I am feeling at that moment I feel at ease and energised. When I get caught in thinking about all the things I have to do, my walk becomes tense, racy and leaves me feeling drained.

    • Yes, Fiona, the way we walk can either bring us back deeply into our bodies or take us even further away…it is all in the way we move and our willingness to just be with ourselves…

  2. Thanks for sharing such a great appreciation for something that supports us so simply we can tend to overlook it when the day seems a little over full.

    • Thank you Sandra, yes, it is such a simple thing and yet it can make a profound difference to the way we feel about ourselves and the way we live our lives.

    • Yes great description Sandra – “… when the day seems a little overfull”. – -I fully relate as when my day seems that way the first thing that goes is physical exercise, either walking or going to the Gym… when in essence that would be the way to get things into a flow so the ‘overfull’ feeling will dissipate and things will work out anyway.

    • Yes, Bill, it is lovely to be in a daily rhythm of getting up early and spending time enjoying our bodies and being with nature and our loved ones…

  3. I agree when we walk ourself by focusing on our movements, feeling and appreciating our body as we walk is lovely and that connection feels so very loving and beneficial for the whole of our being.

  4. When I’ve just had a busy couple of hours of air traffic control, I can and usually do end up very ‘heady’, after making so many mental decisions. My only way back – to feel calm, steady, and clear again is to go for a walk. I know this must be true for many other controllers too, because every day you will see people doing laps of the carpark and office building! There’s just something about walking that gives a new and proper perspective to life.

    • Love it, Suzanne…and you are controlling the traffic in the air, but the rest of us tend to be ‘controllers’ of our lives too…perhaps going for a walk is the antidote to control!

    • Love this – ” people doing laps around the car park and office building’ – what a great reflection on how needed walking truly is. And if we can do it in connection with our body rather than our head walking us with its thoughts, then we are able to bring so much more to all we have to do thereafter,

  5. “I love to walk. Walking brings me out of my head and into my body and just a few minutes of walking with myself can completely change the way I am thinking and feeling” – Yes me too Anne, and it makes such a difference then to whatever is next for me to do. I have noticed of late how I have let that slip in my routine and am definitely getting onto that again.

  6. Thank you for this reminder: “Even 10-15 minutes can make an enormous difference to how we feel, and if we walk for 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunchtime, and 10 minutes after work, that is our recommended 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise right there! No effort at all, and a chance to be with ourselves, or to come back to ourselves if we have become a bit lost in the energy that has come at us through the day.” It makes it totally practical, as I do also work at the computer most day and with this little routine to get started will make a huge difference as to how my work will flow. I have a lake nearby that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to go around once and it’s a lovely space so that is something I will start doing again as of now.

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