Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Walking provides for observing the world. The faster we walk the less we see. Walking keep me interested without flooding my senses with exhausting speed.
Our minds seem to operate as though our bodies are in motion. Our minds eagerly process information as we stroll down the street. When we sit or lie awake for long period, our minds seem to work just as we are walking but now without the stimulus input provided by walking. So our minds generate their own stimuli. For some people they will go over and over past events or creating some imaginary scenarios of future difficulties or asking unanswerable questions of themselves or daydreaming or conjuring up ideas. Walking and paying attention to what one encounters is a great help to many depressed people. They may not feel like walking. (In my past article we know the difference between feeling like doing something and actually doing it) But depressed people need the movement and stimulus input to break into the cycle of negative thinking and inactivity.
Sometimes I walk with my patient during a session, at time I asked them to do this walk exercise. The walk can be taken solely for pleasure or as a trip to a market or whatever. I suggest that the walk to last at least thirty minutes provided there is no medical reason to curtail it and to vary the pace depending on your physical condition.
Spend some time attending to the way your body moves as you walk. Notice the fluidity as parts of your body moves together in rhythm. Break the rhythm on purpose, swing the arms in the opposite direction as you stride or swing them in a wider arcs to get an appreciation of how they operate ordinarily. Try to get lost in walking, just walking. Notice your head movement, your breathing, the way your foot touches and pushes off the ground, the feel of your clothing brushing different areas of your skin and so forth. Walking, walking, walking. Next shift your attention to what is going on about you. What has the world brought you to see and think about? What sorts of people are about? What are they wearing? What dramas are they enacting? What greenery is about? What is there to be learned from the trash that is visible? What do you notice about the details of the houses? Observe as though you were going to be quizzed in detail about what you saw. (If you were my patient, a quiz would be exactly what you would be expecting). Observing, observing, observing.