“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”
This morning was alarming. The clock radio jolted me awake at 5:10, in the middle of a dream. I was out the door at 5:35, stepping into fog and the sticky central North Carolina air. I woke with grim determination to start the week on a positive note, practicing what I preach to my clients. (I’m lousy at coaching myself, because I ignore most of my advice.)
Like Thoreau, I am disturbed when parts of me are missing during a walk, or during other endeavors. However, during summer slug season in the South, I’m doing well just to get my body moving through the neighborhood. If mind and spirit are elsewhere, perhaps they don’t feel like walking! Nevertheless, today — the beginning of a challenging work week, with many “to dos” before I leave on vacation — felt like an appropriate time for all parts of me to engage in my walk. I decided to give it a try.
Here’s a report on my 37-minute trek from grogginess to wakefulness:
1) First, I watched where I was going. This was prudent, with dawn barely breaking, everything shrouded in foggy grayness and the need to be aware of stray cars while crossing the street. Beyond keeping my eyes open for safety, I noticed trees blossoming like crazy, hibiscus, and other mysteriously beautiful flowers I can’t name. (This reminded me I’m not in Ohio, where I recognize most plants.) Colors were obscured by the low-hanging clouds; it felt as though I was walking through an impressionistic painting.
2) I watched my thoughts, too and decided I was getting nowhere, berating myself for work I did not complete over the weekend, followed by familiar anxiety about how-will-I-ever-get-it-all-done-before-leaving-town?! I decided to focus on my breathing instead. This seemed sensible, given my renewed enthusiasm for mindfulness (see last week’s blog entry). It worked!
3) After breathing my way into a more harmonious state, I invited my spirit to join the walk. I focused on important people in my life, sending positive vibes to those who are struggling and feeling gratitude for the ones who support me. I thought about the clients I’ll meet this week and how I can serve them most effectively: it requires being fully present and seeing the best in them.
4) Finally, it was time to think and talk more positively about myself. I thought about the weekend from a different perspective. Instead of being upset about undone work, I considered things I accomplished and how they reflect the balanced lifestyle I desire. I remembered how happy I was to spend quality time with favorite people and with my piano. I picked up fantastic fresh produce at the farmer’s market and expressed my creativity in the kitchen. I hosted guests for dinner Saturday night. I read the Sunday paper at a leisurely pace, over a cup of tea. It was a good weekend!
To sum it up: by the end of my morning jaunt, I was awake, smiling, energized and ready to work. I appreciated and enjoyed my post-walk breakfast more than usual, too!