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Campfire Thoughts: Stepping out for a moment - the benefits of walking

Campfire Thoughts - a short read whilst the kettle boils or the embers die out.

If you look around on the internet you’ll find a tonne of articles telling you that you’re doing some apparently simple things completely wrong. You know what we mean: The Three Breathing Mistakes Everyone Makes, How You Should Really Be Sleeping, Mindful Liver Function Will Change Your Life. So we know what you’re thinking when you see an article about walking. How hard can it be, right? But the question isn’t how hard it can be, it’s how great it can be.

The thing about walking is that it’s the rare chance to do just a tiny bit more than nothing. The tininess of the bit is very important. Doing absolutely nothing drives us mad, as months of increasingly strange TikTok challenges have shown, but being too busy is the scourge of normal modern life. Walking is right in the sweet spot - enough of an activity to calm your guilty conscience, but not so much of one that it feels like another event in your own personal Overwork Olympics.

The most important thing to remember when you’re on the move, walking or otherwise, is to keep moving. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that, but there’s a temptation to make it so. We try and use the time - grab a podcast, make a phone call, plan the next day’s work in our heads - but give yourself a moment. Give yourself the gift of a few minutes of blissful mental downtime. We’re so unaccustomed to being alone with our thoughts that it can almost be terrifying to contemplate, but it’s as helpful to our mental state as sleep.

Don’t worry about where you’re going either. There’s something freeing in the feeling that nobody knows where you are, not even yourself. As long as you’re fairly sure you can find your way back, then just keep turning different corners until you feel like heading home. Walking like this - undistracted, aimless and free - becomes a form of meditation that’s more accessible than folding yourself in lotus position or finding a room in your house where nobody will come crashing in. Walking costs nothing, takes no preparation beyond tying your shoelaces and, more importantly, you can do it anywhere.

Of course, in an ideal world we’d all be able to disappear into the mountains or the woods for a walk whenever we wanted, but there’s a calm to be found even in the eye of an urban storm when you just set a rhythm and move. The ease in your body relaxes your mind and the sights and sounds flow by, guiding your thoughts if you choose to focus on them. We’re not saying that the roar of traffic compares to nature’s soft soundscape, but the benefit is still real.

So switch off whatever you’re reading this on and go. No destination, no distractions, just a moment of escape into stillness in motion.

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