What do you do to start your day? What is your morning ritual? How does this compare with the way the natural world starts it's day?
Maybe you wake up, turn on the coffee or teapot & sit in front of a screen to get the daily news, or read a newspaper or magazine. We are after all thinking beings who crave information, unlike our furry & feathered brethren. Maybe you have morning pages and just start writing. Maybe you begin with a shower, many of natures creatures do this; Birds, Raccoons, & others, but they don't have indoor plumbing, so they often have a longer walk, or flight to get to the water than we do, in fact, their very first move is stretching.
It was in this moment I realized something. In our hectic lives, and whether you run a business, have a family, have a sick or dying relative, are up for a promotion, are afraid you may be out of a job or home soon, or, god forbid, all of these things at once - Aahhh!
When you start your day with movement, you connect with nature, you get a feel for what the day will be like, sunny, cloudy, rainy, muggy...,More importantly, you put space between you and the most pressing issues facing you. Think of some of the iconic books you may have read, and the thoughts that come out of the characters in them, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, The Outsiders, or one of my favorite's Steven King's "The Talisman", so may of them have had to do with journey's. Within those journey's are little walks, moments of clarity, when it is just the character and his or her thoughts. That is what the walk provides. Walk as long as you can. Find a way to fit it in. Better yet, do it first thing in the morning (whatever morning is for you - Yes, I am talking to you second and third shifters), just step out of bed, put on the closest clothing to you, and head on out the door. Start with 10 minutes every day - without fail. Ideally, the longer the better, say a half hour or so, but for those of you who are not used to the practice, keep it simple, and start with 10 minutes.
If you start your day with a shower, wait 'til after the walk, if you start your day with news, wait 'til after your walk and shower, if you start your day with morning pages, or a journal, walk, shower, Journal. The point is to give your thoughts space, and to prepare your body for the day. Make the walk a priority, begin with movement. If you have a dog, take them along, no human can appreciate a morning walk like a dog, and it will bring a whole other dimension to the walk. If you start your day with some other exercise, you can stop reading, you probably already know where I am going here.
Writing in a journal first thing in the morning, when you have a lot weighing on you can be particularly dangerous. You are writing without a filter, and all of your pent up anxiety from the decision you've made, or have to make, or the financial crunch you are in, or the potential loss of a loved one, the fight you had with a loved one, or classmate/officemate or the impending takeover of your company, or loss of your business, or the ....... it all just pours out of your pen onto that paper, and what goes on paper, stays with you far longer than what passes through the filter of your mind. I'm not saying the anxiety won't still be there, but I challenge you to try walking first, and see how it changes the words you put in that journal. I think you will find them softer and more thoughtful. In moments where anxiety is lower, you may just have a new epiphany to write in your journal. How cool would that be! I challenge you to give it a try, and see what your results are.
Maybe you start the day with news, or Facebook, or some other thing. Trust me, leave it until after your walk. An amazing thing happens when you walk. Your priorities magically align. You begin thinking differently, you've given your thoughts time to untangle and make sense. If Facebook or The News are what you do first thing in the morning, perhaps after your walk, you may realize something else is much more important to take care of first. You may not, but without the walk you will never know until it bites you later :)
With Facebook, you should definitely have a designated FB time. It helps you connect with the world around you, as does the news, but maybe something else needs to come first, and hey, if someone else is the first one to learn about something, what's the worst that could happen? You could find you are connecting with real people! Having a conversation, asking them for more information about the funny video, or the breaking news story, or the friend's health scare. What's the worst that could happen there? They feel good about being able to share something with you - the know it all ;) and that could just make someone's day. All because you took a walk.
Walking, just walking, with only your thoughts - no music or iphone or friends, or enemies. This is not a social walk, this is not a physical health walk (ie: if you are walking with friends at lunch, it doesn't count), this is a mental health walk.... It costs no money, takes surprisingly little time, and will make the rest of your day like.... maybe not a walk in the park, but undoubtedly, a much easier hike:)
Give it a try, I dare you, and invite you to post your results. I am excited to hear your experiences!
Happy trails! ~Mike