We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.
The quote (Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, 17.8), above, is part of the daily meditation for June 21st from The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.
I’ve mentioned The Daily Stoic in my newsletter on more than one occasion; such is my love for it. I find that Stoic wisdom is perfect for our harried and often confusing modern lives.
But, let’s get back to that quote. I believe walking (especially in nature) and sleeping are two of the healthiest and most cost-effective (free!) ways to keep the mind sharp, enhancing blood flow and creating new neural pathways, and the body well.
Walking multiple times a day (it helps to have a dog), I neglect wandering—I walk to complete a task. I have to empty the dog (as my friend, Andrew, says), but once that job is done, I miss out on the ambling that’s characteristic of a mind-clearing and refreshing walk.
Like anything in life, we need to interrupt our patterns to allow new ideas and inspiration to come in and to rewire our brains to make new neural pathways. When I walk the same well-worn path, I stop seeing things. The little delights, like roman chamomile pushing up through the cracks in the sidewalk, go unnoticed when I’m on autopilot.
So, I’m committing to taking new routes and exploring my neighborhood, with eyes and ears open (no music or podcasts) to what’s there. I want to learn to see with greater depth and allow that sense of discovery to come in.
Discovery isn’t just the domain of travel to foreign places.
What if you could approach your life, and your neighborhood, as if it were a foreign land? What would you discover? If you give it a try, let me know what happens!
Here are a few books about walking and wandering to inspire you:
- Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
- Flâneur: The Art of Wandering the Streets of Paris by Federico Castigliano