"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking," Friedrich Nietzsche
Each morning I walk myself into a state of well-being and away from my worries. I walk myself into new ideas, creative solutions and immense gratitude for what I have. With each step I feel empowered. But why is my gratitude walk so powerful? Fundamentally, it's the combination of two mood-boosting stress-busting life-affirming tools being used together - walking and expressing gratitude simultaneously. Walking itself solves problems, boosts well-being and reduces stress. Similarly, gratitude echoes those qualities. Gratitude heals, destresses, and elevates you towards your goals. Together - walking and gratitude are powerful combination.
Jotting down what you're grateful for before you doze off can even help you to sleep better, fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
Keeping a gratitude journal, like Oprah does is "a major cornerstone in building your best life". But what if you're too tired to write a list of stuff that you're grateful for before bed? You need an alternative for those instances.
A morning gratitude walk is one solution. Now, with my gratitude notebook placed firmly in my pocket, I venture out after the school run and, midway along the walk, jot down those gratitude statements and (if nobody is around, which they rarely are, something I am especially grateful for) I say them out loud. I thank the universe. And I feel that gratitude deep inside. It's a powerful, emotional and liberating feeling. As well as good health, friends and family I always say thank you for this place, space and time.
I love these quiet village lanes on which I walk. I turn the corner and take it all in: the lane stretching out before me, winding down towards the village, lined with wild flower hedgerows, meandering in between the golden corn and barley fields. I spot the church in the distance, and then that huge mass of sky just envelopes me. The enormity of the sky makes my soul sing with gratitude. As I near the end of my walk I have a ginormous grin on my face. (Fortunate then that I rarely encounter any other human on my walk!) But I can't help it. Because life is amazing! Of course, life is also tough, harsh, unfair... but there is always something to be grateful for and this walk reminds me of that. Every single time.
The Power of Walking
Said Hippocrates, "Walking is man's best medicine." Certainly, the health benefits of walking are well documented. Walking not only boosts stress-easing endorphins within just 10 minutes, it reduces fatigue, increases circulation and heart health, improves blood pressure, burns more fat than jogging and even reduces glaucoma and alzheimers risk.
Walking also empowers you to open your mind. As I walk I experience this wondrous realisation that all shall be well, that everything (good or bad) happens for a reason and that, either way, it's a win-win; i.e. even if everything doesn't work out precisely as you wish it to (and, let's face it, life is life and bad stuff happens) you'll still benefit in from being thrown a curveball or obstacle to navigate round. You'll learn a vital lesson you needed to learn; you'll take a different path that is actually better for you than the one you were on; you'll re-assess and make a change, or you'll grow stronger as a person and appreciate what you were striving for even more when you get there, because you WILL get there, as long as you believe and express gratitude for what you already have.
Walking bolsters that belief, it crystalises your vision. It takes you on a path to your own kind of enlightenment.
During this walk you are giving yourself something incredibly valuable that many don't or can't give themselves - TIME! Time to just think. Time to just feel. Walking gives you essential breathing space that juggling and multi-tasking in modern day life takes away. Walking switches off your autopilot so you can feel alive, be more mindful of your surroundings and ponder. Within just 10 minutes you feel less stressed. Then you start to notice more, connect more, and become more appreciative.
As mindfulness expert, Mark Williams of BeMindful.com says, "Most of us find that we sleep-walk through life, and become immune to life's riches." Actual proper walking wakes you up from sleep-walking, as long as you relish it and allow yourself the time to truly experience it.
How To Walk With Gratitude :-)
- Walk alone if possible (you can't think if you're chatting to a friend).
- Find a peaceful location to walk in with minimal distractions or people around. The more literal space you have, the more breathing space you'll have and the more freeing the walk will be.
- Take a notepad and pen so you can jot down a list of 10 things you are completely grateful for. Feel that gratitude then walk on. Also jot down any ideas about projects to pursue or actions to take.
- Take a deep breath in for five and out for five and notice your surroundings. Keep your head up as you walk. Look around you, breath it all in, then let those creative thoughts flow.
- Create the time to walk regularly. Just 15 minutes per day or even every other day will have a positive impact on your life.
Some say that angels whisper to you when you walk. I sometimes feels like doors open, opportunities show themselves, ideas formulate... certainly, with each step there is progress. As Barack Obama says, "If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress." Of course Mr Obama is speaking metaphorically but, quite literally, if you go on a walk today and focus on both what you are grateful for and what you strive for, you will make progress and, as you head towards your desired destination, you'll enjoy the journey all the more because you appreciate what you already have.