Staring at my screen, trying to think of what to write, and I realize I’ve been sitting in the same place for too long. It’s time to go for a walk. My body wants to move, and it dawns on me: this is my next blog post!
Walking – it sounds simple, right? Yet, this everyday activity is packed with many benefits.
First, walking causes bilateral stimulation. Walking is a repetitive, simple movement of your feet, shuffling from left to right, and bilateral stimulation occurs when you cross your midline in this fashion. This rhythmic pattern helps balance your left brain and right brain activity.
Since I am buried deep in left brain mode (think logical, linear), then a walk is just what I need to attract more right brain thinking, like creativity and enjoyment. When we feel pushed into a wall and there is no movement forward, then it is a good time to reflect and see what else would be helpful right now.
My walk reinforces a second important lesson: to listen to my body. In that moment, I could have continued to bang my head against the wall, but, instead, I checked in with myself, and realized I wanted to get up and move around. Since it was nice outside, the idea of a walk flashed in my head, and I wanted some fresh air and a change of scenery. I thought, “This is exactly what my body needs right now and this is what I’m doing.” A sense of empowerment came over me as I followed this intuition. Empowerment leads to confidence building which can also shift mental energy or a creative block.
Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in our heads, trying to understand a situation, by thinking, planning, and analyzing. I truly believe the body is the missing link in forward movement. When we relax our bodies, we relax our minds. We become more open to new possibilities. Shifting your physiology, like going for a walk, may allow you to be more open to new ideas, solutions, and perspectives.
When we tap into our body and take a mental break, sometimes things just are the way they are – there is nothing to be made sense of that will change anything. When we accept things the way they are, then we can begin to shift our energy into what it would look like to move forward. Movement, like walking, is a great vehicle to get us out of our headspace, and see things from a distance. With this new distance and space, we may experience our thoughts loosening their grip or hold on us. When we begin to hold our thoughts lightly, we are more open to acceptance and self-compassion.
Another benefit to walking is it brings us into the present moment. When we link movement to breath, as in yoga and other forms of exercise, we notice ourselves right here, right now. I turn my walk into a mindfulness practice by paying attention to my breathing and then my five senses. For example, I listen to all the sounds around me, like the birds chirping, the leaves rustling in the wind, and the sound of the wind against my ear.
Now that my walk is over, I feel at ease and more productive. The mental break stimulated new thinking, and I come back to my desk with more energy and a fresh perspective that helps me push through my creative block. I have a new idea that is developing into my next writing topic. It also felt good to be outside in the sunshine and to take time for myself. I also especially enjoyed being in nature and seeing the fall foliage. All this, and it happened in a simple 15 minute walk!