In this, I talk about how I like to process stuff while walking around the landscape. I explain how I set an intention for my subconscious during a walk, and how I try to hold my thinking loosely while walking. I feel like this works for me as an indirect way to reflect and solve problems. I hope it works for you too.
I do like a walk. Short or long. I’m just back from a long one — 8 days walking across Western Australian on the Bibbulmun Track. There was lots of space and not many people. There wasn’t much phone signal. There was lots of space and walking to do and time to think.
After a couple of days settling in, I started to experiment with setting out with an intention for the day’s walk. I tried stuff like:
Hey heart and feet, have a good old chew on this: what I’m going to do for work when I get back to London. Hey you don’t need to solve it, just have an explore and see what comes.
Focus that intention on whatever part of you or your stuff of whatever around you (poetically) knows best. The point is to put it in the background of thought, in the subconscious, not in the foreground of your mind. I like engaging my heart and feet for this — definitely not my head, and there’s a license there: for movement and emotion.
I’m also being careful to take the pressure off and stay playful with it. This is exploring, experimenting and fun, not do-or-die must-be-right must-be-perfect make-a-decision. It ain’t maths.
And now I set off to walk. For now, I trust my subconscious will get on with it. The landscape rolls on by, step by step. I hold in my mind the idea that the landscape is part of the processing, as are the footsteps, the heartbeats, the bodily feel of walking, the sun, the wind. The flies as well. I purposely try to stay out of rumination and brooding especially on the issue at hand. I hope to settle into a meditative state — but without trying. I trust something will happen. The fact I’ve set that intention means it is easier to let go of the conscious thoughts and helps address those “I’m wasting time” or “I’m disconnected” anxiety. My steps are slightly more purposeful.
The day passes, mostly in silence.
At the end of the day with my backpack off my back and a cup of tea in hand, I feel different, like something indeed has happened in me. It is hard to define what I’ve “learned” but it feels good. It feels purposeful. It does feel like my conscious thinking has moved on with respect to my question in my intention. I’m content with my day’s processing. And I’ve brought my body in on this, I’ve brought the landscape in, every step, every tree, every heartbeat. I’m supported and feel bigger than I was. Result.
It works for me. It might for you. Have an experiment with it and see what comes.
For now, I’m experimenting with shorter walks and attaching intentions to all sorts of physical movement kind of things. Shifting and stacking that 1/2 tonne of wood. Walking to the station.