Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Walk with the Five Senses

I enjoy walking and its permutations hiking and snowshoeing. When I had to give up jogging thirteen years ago because of my arthritic hip, walking became my prime substitution. On weekdays when I can get out at lunch, I take an hour walk, and on Sundays I go up in the mountains to hike or snowshoe, depending on the season. When I walk by myself, it is an activity for my body, heart, mind and soul. The exercise is great for staying healthy (body), the joy I get from being outside gives me a positive emotional feeling (heart), I often come up with ideas by letting things I’ve been preoccupied with percolate (mind), and I’ve recently learned a technique that helps my overall spiritual well-being (soul). This is to walk with the five senses. To be fully present while I’m walking, I pay attention to each of my five senses and concentrate on the moment. I open my mouth, lick my lips and taste my surroundings. Then I take a deep breath and smell the aromas around me. The flowers, trees, hay, skunks--good or bad odors are part of the moment.

Then I concentrate on what I feel. If the air is cool, I sense the tingling on my arms and face. If the sun is beating down, I feel the warmth on my skin. Next I listen to the sounds around me. The birds, the wind blowing through the trees, the whistle of a train, the traffic--whatever is going on. And finally, I take in the sights around me. It is so easy to get preoccupied and miss the beauty that abounds. Aspen leaves dancing in the breeze, flowers, the jagged mountain peaks, other people in their crazy outfits, birds soaring and dipping. I look up and down and to the sides. There is always so much to see whether in a city or out in the woods. When I used to jog, everything passed by too rapidly and I was struggling to move. When walking there is time to appreciate my surroundings. I sometimes walk beside a golf course. The vivid green, the whack of someone hitting a ball, the gurgling stream on the other side of the path, the canopy of trees overhead, the joggers, walkers, bicyclists, roller-bladders passing by are all part of the chain of moments. With my five senses rejuvenated, I’m ready to go back to the pressing issues of the day.

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