Walking. It is such a simple act for our bodies, but the very act of walking is special on so many levels. Today I have been thinking on the physical, mental, social aspects of simply walking.
I usually walk in the morning, after a few stretches. It's my wake-up routine. I feel my body in motion on the ground, the earth's surface, whatever that surface may be on the route available. I try for grass or dirt, but that's not always an option. The body is good about the job of planting the feet safely, always ready to alert the mind for pain avoidance. It's the sensation of movement through the air that I love, the exhilaration of motion through the wind, the rain, the heat, or the cold, with the grounding of my feet, like the beat of my heart.
So, the body is busy, watching for rocks and holes. What does the mind do while it is along for the ride? Sometimes it's a meditation day, with just enough external focus to keep me safe while breathing in and breathing out. Sometimes it's thinking through tough problems or making plans. Sometimes it's letting the creative thoughts have full rein.
Sometimes it's noticing things: new things, changing things, colors, plants, or even a restaurant to try later. A friend coined the phrase "little nature things" that she focuses on while she does her morning walks. She collects these things in her mind as she moves along. For example, she notes the first day the live oaks show their buds for blooming, or the birds she sees.
The physical and mental aspects of walking are experienced by me alone, but part of walking is also engaging with everyone and everything around me. I used to walk back and forth to work and was able to greet the same neighbors every day along the way. I once asked a fellow passerby a question about a plant growing in someone's yard, then after passing the same person over and over, and seeing them in the coffee shop, a cherished friendship has developed.
Think about sharing that walking space. You and another living thing on two different intersecting paths. Or sharing a whole walk with a friend, chatting along the way. This morning, I temporarily shared my space with this turtle.