Aug 312011

Walking for transformation

What do you do when you feel stuck with a decision and don’t know how to move through it? Or you feel intense, reactionary emotion and don’t know how to relax so you can find your center, find your clarity again?

One of the things I do is walk. Not just my usual, throw myself out the door, get some exercise walk, but a walk with the specific intent of learning and transforming. You might call it a walking meditation, or walking reflection. It’s one of my favorite therapies.

Walking moves the body and deepens the breath. We become relaxed and open to new thoughts and ways of being;  it can help us shift out of habitual ways of thinking and our mind becomes free to find new solutions. If you’ve been turning a problem over and over in your mind with no solution, take your troubles for a walk.

How far you walk and the pace you set is up to your inclination and fitness capabilities. If illness or injury prevents you from walking, then you can imagine your walk, doing the exercise in your mind. This fires the muscles you would use if you were actually walking, and encourages your whole system to maintain it’s belief in the ability to move.

Set your intention

Before you begin your walk, know what you’re asking for.  You might, for example, be facing a career choice, be in the middle of a family disagreement, or facing a decision about health care. Be clear about the issue and ready to let it go as a “problem” and receive a solution.  Be committed to acting on the answer you receive.

Head out the door

As you head out on your walk, hold an image of the question in your mind, but acknowledge that you don’t know the answer and let go of active problem-solving. The idea is to get your busy mind out of the way so your creative mind can discover new ways of looking at things. Notice how good it feels to let the problem go. Notice your thoughts as they come and go. Allow them to shift and change without holding onto them, without directing them in any way. Enjoy your body movement. Enjoy the release of handing over your question to your intuitive, creative mind.

The answer

At some point you may notice a thought that speaks differently to you than the others. It may be a sudden, strong new thought. Or a seemingly insignificant thought that keeps coming back until you begin to notice it in a new way. If it seems to be asking for your attention, then pay attention. Keep walking, and ask yourself if this might be your answer, or the beginning of an answer to your question.

Sometimes a beginning is what we’re given, sometimes more. Sometimes my answer is a new attitude with which to address the puzzle. Walk until you feel you understand what you’ve received and are sure you’ll remember it.

Take some quiet time after your walk. New awareness can be fragile, slipping out of the mind if we get busy too fast, so try not to rush into another activity right away. Nurture your new awareness, and think about how you might act on what you’ve learned.

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