The Art of Walking

 The ancient art of walking

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREPeople with an office job walk on average three to five kilometres a week. The hunters and collectors in premodern cultures walked 20 to 40 kilometres every day. According to the blueprint of our body we are physically designed to do just that. However, we move ourselves primarily sitting in cars, trains and airplanes or within the virtual space of the internet. In the meantime our lives become faster and faster in many respects. Activities, processes, information and experiences become faster and more volatile. This combination of blazing acceleration on the one hand and morbid lack of physical exercise on the other is no good for us. Our body and mind tell us this much. The ancient art of walking helps us rediscover the natural human pace; the footstep. Step by step we find a new balance, and the flood of information and images transforms into a slow stream of impressions. It’s raining. I’m getting wet. A branch breaks under my foot. A bird flies away, startled. I feel the wind in my hair. I smell rotten leaves. I’m open to the unexpected and the intangible. I am here in the present moment.

Orientation

compass-musiciansWhen you walk you can let yourself be guided by the signs that show you the way or even by a navigation tool. But the developing and sharpening of your own senses of navigation is one of the most interesting and pleasurable experiences of walking and one of the most important demands of life in general. “A good walker needs no tracks”, is an old saying from the well known Taoist Lao-Tse. This can be applied to the way you lead your life. To be present in the here and now is a fertile soil for getting in touch with who you really are and for looking at your life-trail. Where am I? Where do I come from? Where do I want to go? How do I get there? You choose your direction based on your inner essence. You choose with head and heart.

Happiness of walking

Screen shot 2013-01-21 at 13.25.43It doesn’t always have to be easy. Sometimes the road is longer than you expected and you may be forced to shift some boundaries. The paths are not always paved and sometimes they even may appear impassable. The weather can play tricks on you; heat on a shadow-free road, rain that turns your path into a mud stream or cold that drives you crazy. This way you not only experience the character of your natural surroundings but your very own character is challenged and strengthened.

When we really surrender to the challenges we meet on our way, if we are completely present in the present, then it’s likely that we end up in the state of consciousness called ‘flow’. In these moments, in which you are completely at peace with yourself, your surroundings and activities, you experience the sheer happiness of walking. This feeling cannot be forced to come into existence in any way. It feels like a gift when it happens to you. However, you can create circumstances which can help this state of being occur. This in turn will strengthen your psychological immune system; you’ll be better able to cope with stress, to overcome setbacks and disappointments and to use your resources and energy in creative ways. And besides all this, you become physically stronger and fitter. This enhanced vitality improves all aspects of your life. You come to meet the best in yourself.

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