Both my favorite form of meditation and my favorite form of exercise is walking. Sometimes I try to notice tiny details about the world around me that would otherwise go unseen, sometimes I use the walk as a time to work out a problem in a story I’m writing, and sometimes I just let my mind go blank. This love of walking started way back when I was too young to even think of it as exercise and just did it for fun. My grandmother would take me to our local cemetery (which had enough flora to seem more like a park) and we would wander around looking at the trees and interesting gravestones and then eat a picnic lunch on her mother’s grave.
When I was 18 and had just graduated from high school, I made the somewhat odd decision to live at my parent’s summer house upstate and go to college there. Having lived with family in the city for my entire life, I don’t think I was prepared for just how bored I would be, living by myself in the country. Out of sheer boredom, I just started walking down the road one day. I ended up walking for about two hours a day, every day. Years later, living in Westchester county (north of NYC by about a half hour), I found myself still in this habit of long walks. But by this time, it was less out of boredom and more out of desire. I always walked alone and found I liked the quiet and solitude. If a few days went by and I didn’t get my walk in, I would start to get stressed.
Eventually I met and married my husband and moved back to NYC. And while I do and probably always will love it here, there are not many places where one can find a walk in solitude. Not having as much free time as I used to pre-kids, out of necessity I’ve learned to make due with the mile-long walk from the subway station to my house. It may not be as green and peaceful as a country road or a park, but when I put on my headphones and tune out the world, I can sometimes grasp that tiny bit of quietness in a busy day that can keep me sane.
Me on a wooded trail in FDR Park, Westchester County, New York.