Walking can be a form of mindfulness meditation, especially the practice known as attentive walking. The natural rhythm of one foot, then the other – this automatic, yet biologically complex process – gets the blood moving, stimulating the brain. Walking helps us to think, leading to increased creativity and deeper understanding. Going for a walk allows you to think through your problems, in a different way which is hard when sat still. Could a new approach to walking for its own sake, lead to enlightenment?
Physical Benefits of Walking
A clear mind requires a healthy body. Walking is an effective form of exercise and can encourage creative thinking, problem-solving and a more open, receptive mind, due to the following physical benefits:
- A brisk walk cuts the risk of heart problems more effectively than running.
- Walking as little as 20 minutes a day may help prevent sleep problems.
- Regular walking reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- There is little chance of overexertion or injury with walking.
Walking for Wisdom
Physical benefits aside, there may be a link between wisdom and walking. Some of histories greatest thinkers, writers, and meditators seem to have used walking as a means to increase their wisdom. For ancient philosophers, walking and thinking were done in parallel. Aristotle set up a Peripatetic School of Science and Philosophy, which comes from the Greek word for ‘walk’. The Buddha loved to walk, seeing it as an important part of his daily meditation and essential to becoming enlightened. And, walking in nature is where writers such as William Wordsworth found their inspiration.
Walking focuses the mind, stimulates your brain, and heightens your senses. It also takes you to new places which may lead to more knowledge and inspiration through unique experiences.
Walking for Happiness
Those who have found enlightenment, feel an eternal inner tranquility. Walking can help to nurture a feeling of tranquillity. Evidence suggests that people who walk every day are happier.
While taking a walk in an urban setting will likely increase happiness, the best walks will take you into nature. Allow yourself to explore nature by visiting the forest or the countryside during your walks.
It is also well documented that those who spend more time among nature are less stressed than those who spend more time in the city. This inner calm that comes from walking among the trees is its own form of enlightenment.
There are always ways to incorporate more walking in your life. As you walk, appreciate the sensations that go through your body. Pay attention to each step. Notice the feeling of fresh air filling your lungs. Feel your eyes relax as you take time away from staring at a screen and start gazing at the horizon. By taking time to walk in nature you will feel healthier, happier and more enlightened.