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The Endless Fertility of Walking

--by Rebecca Solnit (Apr 29, 2013)


Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.

I wasn't sure whether I was too soon or too late for the purple lupine that can be so spectacular in these headlands, but milkmaids were growing on the shady side of the road on the way to the trail, and they recalled the hillsides of my childhood that first bloomed every year with an extravagance of these white flowers. Black butterflies fluttered around me, tossed along by wind and wings, and they called up another era of my past. Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations.

The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making. And so one aspect of the history of walking is the history of thinking made concrete—for the motions of the mind cannot be traced, but those of the feet can.

Walking can also be imagined as a visual activity, every walk a tour leisurely enough both to see and to think over the sights, to assimilate the new into the known. Perhaps this is where walking's peculiar utility for thinkers comes from. The surprises, liberations, and clarifications of travel can sometimes be garnered by going around the block as well as going around the world, and walking travels both near and far.

Or perhaps walking should be called movement, not travel, for one can walk in circles or travel around the world immobilized in a seat, and a certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body itself in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.

-- Rebecca Solnit, from "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"


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On May 1, 2013 Debbie wrote:

 Walking is my best meditation.  I have to walk most of the day, when I walk outside and share nature, i always am able to place my life back in perspective.  I walk every day, I also have always had to have a ob that allow me to walk around, I work 12 hour shifts in an Emergency room and spend the majority of the time on my feet not purposeful walking but many steps in a day, the movement allows my mind to focus and be more effective.  I frequently suggest to people who show up with panic attacks/anxiety to take up walking when their minds start to show signs of anxiety.



On Apr 30, 2013 Rekha wrote:

 à¤ªà¥ˆà¤¦à¤² चलने के अनंत फायदे  - रेबेका सोनित (१जून, २०१३) देखा जाए &  See full.

 à¤ªà¥ˆà¤¦à¤² चलने के अनंत फायदे 
- रेबेका सोनित (१जून, २०१३)
देखा जाए तो पैदल चलना  à¤•à¥à¤› ऐसी à¤…वस्था है जिसमें हमारा मन, शरीर और संसार जैसे एक सीध à¤®à¥‡à¤‚ खड़े हों, à¤œà¥ˆà¤¸à¥‡ कि तीन पात्र à¤†à¥™à¤¿à¤°à¤•à¤¾à¤° एक दूसरे से बातचीत कर पा रहे हों, जैसे à¤¤à¥€à¤¨ स्वर अचानक मिलकर एक सरगम बना रहे हों। पैदल चलना हमें अपने शरीर और दुनिया द्वारा व्यस्त हुए बिना हमें अपने शरीर और दुनिया के साथ चलने में मदद करता है। यह  à¤¹à¤®à¥‡à¤‚ अपने विचारों में खो जाने कि बजाए हमें सोचने की à¤†à¤œà¤¼à¤¾à¤¦à¥€ à¤¦à¥‡à¤¤à¤¾ है। 
मुझे à¤ à¥€à¤• से पता नहीं था कि मैं उस चट्टान के सिरे पर कुछ जल्दी पहुँच गया था या की कुछ देर से, जहाँ जमुनी रंग के à¤²à¥‚पिन के सुंदर फूल खिलते हैं, लेकिन मिल्कमेड के à¤«à¥‚ल सडक के किनारे छाया में, à¤ªà¤—डंडी के रास्ते पर खिले हुए थे, और उन्होंने à¤®à¥à¤à¥‡ अपने बचपन के उन पहाड़ों की याद् दिला दी,जहाँ सबसे पहले ये सफ़ेद फूल खिलते थे। काले रंग की तितलियाँ मेरे चारों ओर मंडरा रहीं थीं, हवा के झोंकों और पंखों की फड़फड़ाहट से इधर उधर उड़तीं, और उन्होंने मुझे अपने उस गुज़रे ज़माने की à¤¯à¤¾à¤¦ दिला दी। पैदल चलने से समय के साथ-साथ चलना à¤•à¥à¤› आसान à¤¹à¥‹ जाता है; हमारा मन पल में à¤¯à¥‹à¤œà¤¨à¤¾à¤“ं से यादों, और यादों से प्रत्यक्ष में भटक à¤²à¥‡à¤¤à¤¾ है। 
पैदल चलने की लय से मन की सोच में भी एक  à¤²à¤¯ à¤ªà¥ˆà¤¦à¤¾ होती है, और किसी प्राकृतिक रास्ते से गुजरने से मन में बहुत से à¤µà¤¿à¤šà¤¾à¤° भी उत्पन्न होते हैं, या गूँज उठते हैं। इससे हमारे आंतरिक à¤”र बाहरी à¤°à¤¾à¤¸à¥à¤¤à¥‹à¤‚ में एक अजीब-सा तालमेल हो जाता है, जिससे à¤¹à¤®à¥‡à¤‚ लगता à¤¹à¥ˆ कि à¤®à¤¨ भी एक तरह का दृष्य है और पैदल चलना à¤‰à¤¸à¥‡ पार करने का एक तरीका है। हर नया विचार उस दृश्य का हिस्सा ही à¤²à¤—ता है जो हमेशा से वहीं था, मानो यह सोच एक à¤¯à¤¾à¤¤à¥à¤°à¤¾ ही है , उस विचार की शुरुआत नहीं। इसलिए पदयात्रा के इतिहास का एक पहलू है विचारों के इतिहास को ठोस बनाना - क्योंकि मन की चाल की à¤–ोज कर पाना à¤®à¥à¤¶à¥à¤•à¤¿à¤² है, पर पैरों की चाल की खोज कर पाना आसान है।   
पैदल चलने को एक देखने लायक गतिविधि भी माना जा सकता है, हर पदयात्रा à¤‡à¤¤à¥à¤®à¤¿à¤¨à¤¾à¤¨ से उन à¤¦à¥ƒà¤¶à¥à¤¯à¥‹à¤‚ को देखने और उन पर विचार करने à¤•à¥‡ लिए है, अज्ञात चीज़ों को ज्ञात चीज़ों से जोड़ने के लिए। शायद à¤ªà¥ˆà¤¦à¤² à¤šà¤²à¤¨à¥‡ की यही à¤…जीब उपयोगिता à¤µà¤¿à¤šà¤¾à¤°à¤•à¥‹à¤‚ के बहुत à¤•à¤¾à¤® आती है। इस यात्रा से पैदा होने वाले à¤†à¤¶à¥à¤šà¤°à¥à¤¯, मुक्ति, à¤”र चीज़ों का साफ-साफ दिखाई पड़ना, इन सबको पाने à¤•à¥‡ लिए हम अपने आस-पड़ोस का à¤šà¤•à¥à¤•à¤° लगा सकते हैं, और या फिर à¤¦à¥à¤¨à¤¿à¤¯à¤¾ का, à¤”र पास और दूर की जगहों की à¤¸à¥ˆà¤° कर सकते हैं।  
या शायद à¤šà¤²à¤¨à¥‡ को गतिविधि ही à¤•à¤¹à¤¨à¤¾ चाहिए, यात्रा नहीं, क्योंकि इंसान एक दायरे में चल सकता है या एक कुर्सी पर बंधे पूरे विश्व का चक्कर लगा सकता है, और यात्रा का मज़ा तो सिर्फ चलते à¤¶à¤°à¥€à¤° की गतिविधियों से ही आता है, न कि कार, नाव या हवाई-जहाज़ के चलने से। वो तो शारीरिक à¤—तिविधि और à¤¹à¤®à¤¾à¤°à¥‡ सामने निकलते दृश्य मिलकर हमारे मन में कोई à¤—तिविधि पैदा करते हैं, यही हमारी यात्रा को अस्पष्ट और बेअंत फायदेमंद बनाता है; यह अपने आप में एक रास्ता भी है और एक अंत भी, यात्रा भी और उद्देश्य भी।  
- रेबेका सोनित
  
Seed questions might be: "How do you relate to the notion of treating thoughts as a landscape that has been there all along? What is the connection between walking and thinking for you? Can you share a personal experience that brings out the connection between walking and thinking? "
कुछ मूल à¤¬à¥€à¤œ सवाल: "आप अपने उन à¤µà¤¿à¤šà¤¾à¤°à¥‹à¤‚ के बारे में क्या सोचते हैं जिन्हें एक ऐसे à¤¦à¥ƒà¤¶à¥à¤¯ की तरह माना जाए à¤œà¥‹ हमेशा से यहीं था? à¤†à¤ªà¤•à¥‡ लिए पैदल चलने और सोच-विचार करने का आपस में क्या सम्बन्ध à¤¹à¥ˆ? क्या आप अपना कोई  à¤…नुभव सबके सामने रखना चाहेंगे जहाँ पैदल चलने à¤”र सोचने में कोई सम्बब्ध बना हो?"
 

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On Apr 30, 2013 Dr.Kanhaiyalal Sharma wrote:

 In Indian concept of Charveti means go on walking. The person who runs his destiny also run. Walking is related to thinking. Go on peaceful walking new thoughts will emerge in your mind.



On Apr 29, 2013 Shantal wrote:

If walking and the mind resonate depth of thinking then its subjective in that the person is awakened by thaught depending on the nature of their surroundings.  For me any natural space immediately feeds my soul which then talks to me internally.



On Apr 29, 2013 amy wrote:

 I come from a family of "walkers".  Growing up with an abundance of energy (people) living in a small space (our home), I learned early, walking allowed me the space and peace necessary for quality "think time".  
Like energy begets energy,  the rhythm of walking stimulates thought.  In walking, I can rhythmically pray, dance, study, recite, dream, create, soak, plan, embrace, love, celebrate, thank . . .
Enjoyed this read.  Blessings and Love        



On Apr 28, 2013 david doane wrote:

 I don't think of thoughts as having been there all along.  I think that thoughts emerge in response to what is happening, in response to my living.  Actually the landscape also hasn't been there all along as it is in process, always changing, always new.  Walking and thinking are connected, and I walk and think differently in different settings.  In some settings, mainly in my yard, I walk around seeing things to do, seeing work, and  my thoughts become project/goal oriented, left brained.  When I walk away from home, such as in a park, I see and appreciate nature, I marvel at the beauty and sometimes even at the sacredness of it all, I daydream and fantasize, my right brain emerges, I enjoy the process and the aliveness of it and for moments lose track of time.  The awesomeness of nature is always present, and I often miss out on it when I walk at home.  Walking in nature away from home is much more enjoyable, relaxing, and healthy for me  See full.

 I don't think of thoughts as having been there all along.  I think that thoughts emerge in response to what is happening, in response to my living.  Actually the landscape also hasn't been there all along as it is in process, always changing, always new.  Walking and thinking are connected, and I walk and think differently in different settings.  In some settings, mainly in my yard, I walk around seeing things to do, seeing work, and  my thoughts become project/goal oriented, left brained.  When I walk away from home, such as in a park, I see and appreciate nature, I marvel at the beauty and sometimes even at the sacredness of it all, I daydream and fantasize, my right brain emerges, I enjoy the process and the aliveness of it and for moments lose track of time.  The awesomeness of nature is always present, and I often miss out on it when I walk at home.  Walking in nature away from home is much more enjoyable, relaxing, and healthy for me.  I have had the thought that it would be good for me to walk around my yard in the way I walk around in a park -- now I am even more aware that that is true.

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On Apr 27, 2013 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:

 Rebecca has some interesting ideas.   I walk 2 miles four or five times a week.  I do it for exercise, not for the thoughts that may or may not arise.  My first impression is that sitting silently may do the same as what Rebecca says walking does.   Being mindful is not necessarily thinking  in a cognitive  sense.   Awareness precedes thinking and I have found that excessive thinking by persons such as René Descartes have led Western society to want to be overly certain.  Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, has stated that wanting certainty is our original sin.  I tend to agree with Rohr.  Excessive thinking may cause one to be certain and that is a major problem.   As the poet Keats said, one should make up one's mind about nothing. Rebecca probably would agree but I am not sure based on what she said above.  Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  Warm and kind regards to everyone.  See full.

 Rebecca has some interesting ideas.   I walk 2 miles four or five times a week.  I do it for exercise, not for the thoughts that may or may not arise.  My first impression is that sitting silently may do the same as what Rebecca says walking does.
  Being mindful is not necessarily thinking  in a cognitive  sense.   Awareness precedes thinking and I have found that excessive thinking by persons such as René Descartes have led Western society to want to be overly certain.  Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, has stated that wanting certainty is our original sin.  I tend to agree with Rohr.  Excessive thinking may cause one to be certain and that is a major problem.   As the poet Keats said, one should make up one's mind about nothing. Rebecca probably would agree but I am not sure based on what she said above.  Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  Warm and kind regards to everyone.

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