How often do you walk? My guess is all the time. Walking between classes, meetings, meals, houses and dorms, you certainly get your steps in.
But why we walk may be a better, more interesting question. Maybe you do it just for exercise, to clear your head or to enjoy Oregon’s weather (when it isn’t pouring). Either way, walking tends to become a mindless activity.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, I propose that we ought to walk mindfully more often; it is a different activity with a different purpose and different results.
Picture this: Aristotle, it’s believed, circled the grounds of the ancient Greek Lyceum with his students while he lectured (Imagine that for your philosophy lectures!). He thought, as many after him have, that walking helps us think. And I’m inclined to agree.
What we often lose sight of when we walk is that it’s more than just a bodily function or cost-effective transportation or something that’s merely pleasant to do. Walking affords us a chance to clear our heads — not to leave them empty, but to use that clarity to think well.
The mechanical, meditative nature of walking marries (or can marry) two basic human qualities: the need for movement and the need for thought. To be mindful of this will change how you walk — physically (as you take notice of your form and posture) and mentally (as your mind begins working differently).
Time is also a big factor here. When you can, go long and go far. We wouldn’t say that studying ten minutes is really studying, or at least very good studying. So if and when you can, spare an hour or two. In this time, you’ll be able to reach that more meditative state. And if it helps, listen to calming music or warm yourself up with a thought-provoking podcast as you get going.
If you’re unconvinced of the utility of this kind of walking, let me suggest this: Do you have a math or an engineering problem you can’t solve? An essay topic you can’t decide on? Or how about a concept from ethics or metaphysics that you just can’t wrap your head around?
If you’ve spent a few futile hours in the library basement, head outside and take this kind of walk. Chances are, you may have a lightbulb moment. You might find the answer(s) you were looking for, and maybe even learn more about yourself and how you think.
And if not, at least your Apple Watch is happy for the exercise.
Riley Martinez is a photographer for The Beacon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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