Walks are wonderful, and long walks are even more so. Today in this post I want to share with you my learning from this year of how to truly enjoy long walks.
Walking is the most beneficial physical activity that we all know about.
Yet the majority of our generation hardly ever goes out for walks and even if we do go, it becomes a chore and tiresome work that we do only for the sake of our health and fitness.
Darjeeling taught me the beauty of long walks and I’ve been diligently going for my ritual of daily walking for many years now.
It’s something I really don’t like to miss, and even if I do miss it, I always come back to this habit of mine.
But it’s not because I am maintaining my health or because I am overly conscious of my weight.
The only thing that has helped me stick with this habit of walking is the good feeling walking gives me.
But even though I have been going for my daily walks for many years now, it was only this year that I understood that there is also an art to walking.
And even if you have less time, and you can only walk for 20 minutes, let it be a wonderful 10 minutes of going and 10 minutes of coming back where you feel relaxed, at ease and joyful.
Even if it is only for 10 minutes, let it be a wonderful 5 minutes of going and 5 minutes of coming back where you feel like you have come home to yourself.
So.. would you like to see yourself become a person who truly enjoys long walks?
Here are some ways to truly start enjoying long walks
How to truly enjoy long walks
Table of Contents
1. Slow down your pace
When I am on my walk I see people who are on their morning and evening walk, and even those who are not on their walk, walking hurriedly with a lot of huffing and puffing as if there is no time.
To truly start enjoying long walks, start by walking at your natural pace- not too fast, not too slow.
And if your natural pace is too fast, slow down a bit.
On my walk these days, I walk slower than my natural pace.
When you walk slowly you give more time for your body and mind to come in harmony and it naturally eases you.
Notice your pace. If you find yourself walking too fast as a result of your habit, notice it and slow down your pace.
If you find yourself walking fast again, slow down again.
Is there any need to walk too fast?
Your mind may find it boring in the beginning, but slowing down really improves the quality of everything we do.
Walking slowly you become more mindful, you observe your feelings better and you also notice your surroundings better rather than mindlessly walking too fast.
This helps you to come back home feeling eased and relaxed, and even if tired, it’s always the happy kind of tired.
2. Walk for walking, not reaching
When you’re on your walk, if you’re always thinking of when you will reach your home and do this or that, then you will never enjoy your walk.
To truly enjoy long walks, walk as if there is no destination to reach. Walk as if you have nowhere to go and nowhere to reach.
Forget about where you have to reach even if you are just a 10-minute walk.
Walk as if you don’t even have a home and are just walking freely. Instead, let each step, each foot you place be your home and try to be all there.
Walk as if the entire Earth is your home and so where ever you place your foot, you feel you are walking in your mother’s home.
For indeed it is so. This entire Earth is our home.
This walk then becomes a freedom walk. This walk then becomes a peace walk.
And of course, this takes practice, and I am practising too, but even the bits of it when I walk in this way, I feel incredibly free, relaxed, full of deep enjoyment and also full of love for our Earth.
3. Walk with rhythm
Walk gently following a silent rhythm.
Let your walk also feel like a dance which has a rhythm in your pace and movement.
Walk as if each time you place your foot, it is a part of a silent dance.
When I am on my walk and walking in the same rhythm, it makes me feel as if I am dancing on the inside, but nobody can see that.
Only I know of it, and it is still wonderful!
4. Walk as gently as you can
They say that if you just saw the Buddha walking, you could know that he is a fully enlightened person just by his walking.
The revered Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet”
I try to remember this quote when I am on my walk and when I am walking from here to there through the day.
But it’s easier to walk in this gentle manner when I am specifically out for my evening walk.
I always put my headphone on and try to walk placing each foot gently with mindfulness in the same rhythm.
Even just a few minutes of gentle walking and walking as though there is a rhythm feels deeply satisfying.
I wonder how it would feel if we inculcated it all through the day every time we have a chance to walk.
It must require so much practice, but let it begin from a few moments in our day.
5. Be mindful of your steps
When you’re walking know that you are walking and pour all your attention on your foot.
Be mindful of the steps you take
With each foot, as you raise and lower, be mindful of it.
Be mindful that you are raising your feet and be mindful of you placing your foot on the street.
You can do this for a few moments on your walk.
If your mind goes astray, come back to mindful walking again.
6. See the big picture
Most of the time we look at things from a microscopic view, and that is why our problems seem so big.
And here I believe that walking has the ability to make our problems look smaller.
Because walking can be a time when you look at the big picture of things.
When you’re out on a walk anywhere, you are not confined in your room, so you can look out anywhere and see the big picture.
You don’t always need to go to the Himalayas or look out into the sea to feel you and your problems as tiny.
You can walk anywhere, even if it’s on a busy street or a side lane, and look at the big picture.
Here is how to do it:
When you’re walking, try seeing the big picture of the entire surrounding as well as yourself.
Look at yourself as you walk, look at the entire surrounding- the people, the street, the lane, the trees, the shops from a bigger perspective as if you are seeing from a wide angle or from up above.
Most of the time when we walk, we are only focused on the road in front of us and don’t care to notice what is happening around us.
But as you walk, try walking to see the bigger picture of yourself and your surroundings.
The place where you are walking has been here before you were born and will exist even after you die.
The place has experienced all the changes and continues to see change every day.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself thinking, “Out of all the places on Earth, here I am walking on this road, on this very lane, listening to music, feeling what I am feeling, alive at this very moment”
And everything seems so small and inconsequential, and I feel truly alive and impermanent at the same time.
7. Release all tension from your body
This year I noticed in myself that there are stresses and tension hiding in different parts of my body.
Our anxiousness, our tension, and our stress show up in the way we carry this body of ours.
It’s not something that only stays in the mind, but shows mostly in the way we talk and the way we walk.
And even though you may feel as though you cannot control your anxiety, you CAN control the way you talk and the way you walk.
I see people talking and walking full of a rush as if there isn’t even 2 minutes time to talk to someone, when in fact it takes the same amount of time whether they’re rushing, or not rushing.
I have found that most of our worries and our anxiety are stored in hurried movements and when we don’t calm down and instead keep rushing both our minds and our bodies, we don’t give them a chance to be released.
But when we walk slowly, gently, and patiently without rushing, we release all tension from our bodies.
So don’t make your walk another activity where you add a lot of stress by rushing it.
Instead, walk as if there is no need to put in any effort. Walk as if there is a rhythm in your walking, and you will find yourself releasing all tension from your body.
This is how you truly enjoy long walks.
8. Observe your breath and footsteps
Meditation is not only when you are sitting on your cushion and focusing on your breath.
We can make all our everyday chores and activities a practice of mindfulness.
We can make our walk also a practice of meditation and mindfulness.
Breathe gently. Notice your breathing as you take your steps.
With each In-breath, notice the steps you take. With each out-breath, notice the steps you take.
You can do this for a few moments in your walk if not on your entire walk.
Final thoughts- how to truly enjoy long walks
Most of what I am saying here and practising is by following Thay, Thich Nhat Hanh, reading his books, listening to his Dhamma talks and listening to the podcast from Plum Village, ‘The way out is in’
All of these resources greatly helped me to enjoy my everyday living more.
I love long walks so much and when I come back home from it, I feel more alive, energised, calm, strong and at ease.
Long walks are something I enjoy solo and if I have a walking partner, I make sure that we don’t talk about other people or complaints.
This is even more essential if you’re going out for a morning walk with a friend because you don’t want to bring down the early morning energy with gossip.
I get some of the best ideas and visions for myself and the future when I am out on my walk.
I always put my earphones on, and still, I can practice the things I have written above.
I also listen to podcasts and my current favourites are these two:
I hope we get to feel the same joy of walking as much as ‘Thay’ did.
Ending it with Thay’s quote
“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive”Thich nhat hanh
You might also love
- Thich Nhat Hanh on Walking meditation
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- Why thankfulness is mindfulness
- Not hurrying with my body
- Why you should be okay with wasting your time