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Be Well, Move Happy: Walking & Silence

In our new series on wellness and movement, Sara Whatley will be diving into two complementary health topics each month. She kicks off with silence and walking

We are starting this year as we mean to go on by investing in both our mental and physical health. As the shockwaves of Christmas fade away and we enter a quieter period let’s fully embrace the power of silence for our wellbeing, and going hand in hand with that is walking – a simple, gentle and restorative method of movement for our bodies.  

Wellness: Silence

Listen. What can you hear? Our everyday lives are full of noise from the background hum of traffic to the chatter of podcasts; we hardly ever let ourselves be in silence. Some people find it hard to turn down the volume of life because once the quiet descends, you can no longer block out your own thoughts. Noise is a great distraction.

The benefits of being in silence are numerous. Notice the instant ability to focus and concentrate. This may help improve work, academic study, relationships and more. Notice how creative ideas flow freely. Tap into self-awareness and listen to what’s really going on in your mind and body.

Being in silence can also create stillness in mind, body and soul. Noise can feel like rushing. When we let go of the noise and distraction we can become like a still lake; calm and deep, relaxed and reflective.

Staying silent is a brave skill to hone. In moments of conflict staying silent can give you the space to think calmly and rationally, and to properly listen to others – just 5 seconds is enough to take the heat out of a situation. We are conditioned to instant responses nowadays, but there is real power in staying silent for a while.

Why not experiment with being in silence at different times of the day and while you do different activities? In the car, while you eat (does your food taste any different?) or simply sit in silence wherever you are. It may be difficult to find absolute silence, but that is OK. Start by actively listening to the sounds around you, then accept them and let them drift. Find your own silence.

Movement: Walking

The combination of silence and walking is magical. Get your creative juices flowing and notice how ideas flood into your head as you walk in silence. It also gives you an opportunity to really listen to what sounds you can hear around you. Tap into the bird song, the wind through the trees, the rustling of leaves and twigs underfoot, or perhaps an unexpected sound as you walk down the street – a glimmer of singing through an open window.

Walking is one of the gentlest ways in which to move our bodies. A snail’s pace and baby steps still gets you where you need to go, and brings some movement into your limbs.

However, pick up the pace and you have a full on energetic workout as you briskly stroll along. This will help to clear your head, increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, help burn excess body fat, and leave you buzzing.  

Most of the time we walk to get places, and do not think about the act of walking while we are doing it. That is perfectly normal and natural – we would get too bogged down if we had to think of every movement our body was making all the time!  But sometimes it is good to be more aware.

Take a walk for the sake of walking and play with it. Try mindful walking, that is taking slow and deliberate steps, placing your foot heel first and rolling onto your toes, feeling all the pressure points on your sole as you go. Lift, glide, place, roll, repeat. Then change it up! Pick up the pace, look up, walk somewhere with purpose and energy. Discover new sights, sounds and experiences as you simply put one foot in front of the other. Simplicity at its best.

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