The body and the mind
I sit at my desk on a sunny day with lots of tasks to do, and yet I yearn to be outside. I know this intense, intuitive sense of what is best for me and it is to be in nature and in motion. Where does this yearning come from?
I decide to trust my instincts and take myself for a walk to the woods. Instinctively, I know that I can understand my thoughts and feelings more clearly when I am outside and moving. When immersed in nature, I am more receptive to the natural world and I use my senses more, noticing the gentle breeze in the trees and on my skin, brings me back in closer contact with my own sensory awareness. A walk can be more than it at first appears. As walking is automatic and requires little thought or concentration to achieve, the part of the brain that deals with information and impulse control can relax, and this allows more creative ideas to percolate through.
Deepening the connections to ourselves
As I walk through a pathway of trees, I am struck by the pathways that I will choose, the ideas that I will allow to take root, and the way that I will deal with change. I am reminded that change is always with us, like the ever-present passing of the seasons which happens almost imperceptibly each day. As I wander, my thoughts can wander too. The parallel process of noticing what happens around us often facilitates an even deeper connection to ourselves. I like the fact that walking connects us to our bodies in a simple way.
The importance of a good walk as expressed by those who have inspired minds
Great minds who talk of the benefits of walking include the thoughts of the following:
‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking’
‘If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish’
‘I like to have space to spread my mind out’
Mental health benefits of walking
Deep connections exist between the mind and the body. Memories are held within us and these often have deep roots. Trauma can lurk on the inside for years, creating feelings of anxiety which rumble just beneath the surface and yet impact on feelings and behaviour. The term ‘embodiment’ is useful to reflect on as this captures our feelings on the inside and then how these ‘felt’ experiences can alter our mood. Left unobserved, we can become trapped in our feelings and these further fuel unhelpful patterns of thinking.
All of us have mental health and it is a testing time to be in the world at present, with risk all around. Investing time tuning into how you feel and what is happening in your body is important. A simple walk could be part of understanding and meeting your own emotional wellbeing needs.