Hang Up and Walk

by Milissa on October 16, 2011

in Breath,Health,Mindful Nature,Mindfulness,Nature,Retreat,Seasons,Trees

Could part of our feelings of stress, overwhelm and not-enough-time-in-the-day be because we’re always ON? Turned on (but not in the 60s slogan sense). We’re talking digitally tuned in and turned on these days. All the time, for so many of us. And the experts are blaming our feelings of too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time on always being available by phone, text, email.

Because we always could (read should) be doing something, we’re afraid to get too far from our devices. Fess up, have you ever checked texts in a theater during a movie? What about in a yoga class…were you really just checking the time?

I’m not trying to call anyone out here, but I do want to suggest a little experiment…

TURN IT OFF (that’s your cell phone) while you WALK!

You heard me right. Not only will giving yourself that break improve your posture (the way things are going in a few generations, I swear, one arm of the human species will be permanently bent at the elbow), give you more energy and help you engage with the world around you. It will also enhance your ability to be more present and effective when you get back to the digital media that make it easier to do your work, connect with family members and friends, and inform yourself on issues you care about and that improve your life and the lives of others.

This is an experiment that has paid off for me. I made a little promise to myself over a decade ago, when I first got a puppy, to hang up while I went for a walk with him. Even though I carry my cell with me (in case of an emergency), the ringer is off. Period.

I decided to do this initially out of respect for my dog, Dewey. Our walks were a great time for us to connect physically and energetically, while we explored nature together. If I was talking on the phone I just wasn’t “there.” Though his sniffing and leg lifting was sometimes boring for me, and I wanted to get back to doing something important, I kept this commitment to “us” and was blessed a thousand times over. Not only did my relationship with my dog benefit, my relationship with the earth deepened, and proved a balm for stress and anxiety that arose over changes in the world—and changes in my own life.

On these mindful walks, I was gifted with feelings of spaciousness and expansiveness, and, through being present in the moment to sights, sounds, smells and sensations—as my little terrier modeled for me—I became more able to sustain presence and focus in other areas of my life.

Even now, when I go out to walk with Dewey twice a day, I transition to a feeling that “all will be well” the moment I feel my feet on the earth and begin paying attention to my breathing. When I notice migrating birds flitting about, seasonal foliage on trees and plants, neighborhood children playing, my breathing blooms and so much space opens up in my life. My intuition and creativity kick in, as I walk in silence. And, honestly, some of my best “work” happens on the path by the Mississippi River. Inspiration fills me, and when I get back to my computer, I am refreshed and focused, and I can compose my insights and share them with others in a click.

Please let me know your findings, if you try this experiment, by posting a comment below. How does turning it off tune you into your relationship with your child, your companion animal, your coworkers, your spouse, your neighborhood, Mother Earth, your small “s” self, your higher Self?

Need a little encouragement, structure or just some companionship on the path? Join me and our mindful tribe at the upcoming Mindful Nature Day Retreat on October 30.

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