Who would have thought walking can be magical? I know, walking hardly sounds magical. In fact, with the new quarantine lifestyle, even walking seems like a chore. I am here to convince you that walking can be the most joyful experience you will have today. Have you ever closely looked at your legs? Stop everything you are doing, go to your closet and look at your legs in the mirror. Appreciate them for what they are. Think about how strong those leg muscles are and how wonderfully they carry you from one place to another with grace. Your legs dance with you, sprint with you, support all of your organs and your entire weight. Your legs tell you when you feel chilly and need a pair of warm socks, they help you find balance when you trip on the road and even train with you at the gym every single day. When you walk, your legs coordinate with each other, the nervous system and the external stimuli so perfectly that you hardly have to pay attention in order to walk properly. Over the years, you have gained experience walking on hilly, rocky, smooth, slippery and puddly surfaces. You now know exactly how to walk on those surfaces, how much pressure to apply on your feet, how long a stride to take and how to avoid obstacles. We hardly give ourselves credit for our amazing capability to walk and excel at it. If we get a stroke, we might possibly forget how to walk and have to learn it all over again. Fascinating, isn’t it?
You can walk while you talk, walk while you eat, walk while you read, walk while you think and the best of all, walk while you overthink things in your head. Have you ever thought of, you know, just walking? I remember the time when I first discovered that walking is simply amazing! I was in the second year of College and I was very much into mindfulness at the time. It was a sunny afternoon on a weekend and the corridors of my dingy Indian dorm were poorly lit. There were not many people in the corridor at the time and the foyer led to an open space that connected my dorm to a long walkway. I decided to take a nice long walk from my corridor through the well-lit foyer towards the long walkway that opened up to a huge outdoor seating area. I was preoccupied by school stuff and my head was about to blast open. So, I said to myself that I can’t allow any more stimuli into my headspace and I started walking like I have nowhere to be. The moment I decided to let go of the inner arguments and “just” walk, I noticed something remarkable. I started to consume the experience of walking with all of my senses and awareness.
With every step I took, I started to feel my own body weight a bit more than I usually do, as if I am literally dragging this 130 pounds of flesh standing up against the gravity. I started to feel with my feet the rough topography. I was involuntarily trying to sense the temperature of the floor. I suddenly became so aware of the empty space around me. If I stopped walking, the space remained the same and if I resumed my walk, I was moving through that space. I looked at the ceiling with a child-like curiosity. I felt time slow down ever so slightly for me to feel relaxed and didn’t need any alcohol or drugs to feel that way. I simply started to witness the various background noises of people talking originating from a distance. Somewhere within me, a seed of joy was growing. I felt this insane rush of happiness, just by enjoying my newly expanded range of awareness. It was purely delightful. I couldn’t explain why such a simple act of “just” walking made me realize the beauty of everything about that moment. A wave of gratitude hit me. I reached the outdoor area, I looked at the beautiful patterns of the pebbles on the ground. I sat down at the corridor near the mud and could clearly see the grains of sand. Wow, what a texture! I took a palmful of sand and felt it, as if I am a 5-year old at the beach looking at sand for the first time. I looked around, some people were in a group laughing loudly while others occupied the corners with their laptops and study material. I looked around, I looked at all of it as if I don’t belong to this scene in the movie. A deep sense of peace and contentment rested inside of me. The only way I would describe that moment was magical. From that point in time, I feel in love with the habit of being fully present when I take a walk in the park, especially on days when I really crave for some magic!
Walking can be a great form of meditation, In fact, Buddhist monks practice walking meditation, which is basically “just walking” but with a bit more grace, love and total awareness. Any activity can be turned into meditation if you use the entire range of your awareness. It is that simple! Next time, when you find yourself walking, spare a few minutes of multitasking and try “just” walking. I wish and hope your experience turns out just as magical as mine, leaving you with a heart full of peace and a face decorated with a big smile.
Picture: Royalty-free, sourced from http://www.unsplash.com.