Taking a nice, long walk benefits your mind

Taking a nice, long walk benefits your mind

I  like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me,” said comedian Fred Allen. Well, the shoe is on the other foot!

A study conducted at the University of Florida with 118 MBAs and others — all office-goers — showed that walking briskly for 90 minutes makes you less annoyed, less aggressive and yes, less likely to vent your rage and resentment — accumulated at your workplace from an abusive boss—on your family members back home.

Steps to freedom
The formula arrived at by the researchers is simple: Walk 10,900 steps a day and keep anger away. Like children turn cranky when sleepy and tired, so are we, at least some of us, unable to control our behaviour when we are stressed out and fatigued.

Our brain is so plastic, so malleable that nerve cells make and break connections according to our environment and the company we keep alters the way it works.

Indoors, subjected to a boss’ tirade, it makes edgy, short-tempered, limited-to- a-small-context connections.

Outdoors, ferried forward on foot, its old connections – grudges, smallness, anger, sadness, fear, resentment, regret, pain, humiliation – become extinct. New ones zip forth branching in all directions and the brain expands in Nature’s generous abundance, experiencing vastness, freedom, independence.

Essayist William Hazlitt said walking gave him breathing space, adding, “Give me a clear blue sky over my head… a winding road before me… I laugh, I sing for joy!”
Further, a long walk takes you into the great infinite world of natural intelligence where splendour, timelessness and tranquility reign.

Artificial intelligence is different — a high-speed search engine, its connectivity saves us much time and effort. And if we don’t get addicted to it, we can return to our natural world where we have the space and luxury for deep contemplation and rich insights.

When grace enters…
You may well wonder, isn’t walking just a temporary respite? After all, you do have to face the same irate boss the next day. In the early stages, these 90-minute lulls give us a sense of what life without conflicts can be—an existence full of grace. And as we continue walking every day, the new connections in the brain give us a whole new perspective.

It changes our entire outlook. When grace enters our perspective, a boss becomes human. Other aspects of our life also take on a more benign shape. When grace enters our perspective, food becomes nourishment; water, nectar; walking, a dance; action, service; living, joy.

What I’ve learnt over the years is that an interior life of a vast and profound serenity is a must. Taking long walks is a pleasant way of moving inward. Step by step, day by day, you release yourself from attachments that are harmful. Tip:

Alongside, cultivate the wise understanding that all events are transitory—they too shall pass.

When your happiness rests on a solid inner foundation of serenity, you can neither explode in anger nor sink into depression.

The wisdom of the road
There are things you learn on the road, things that are of practical value in your day-to- day life:

Sometimes, a digging and its huge heap of mud forces you to take a detour—enjoy the different scenery, discover new by-lanes, stalls, shops and realize gladly how big and alive your external world is too.

Stop worrying about what’s ahead. Just stay on the sunlit side.

Good health is a journey and destination, a journey of joy that continues even after the destination is reached.

On the road, there are no shadowed memory lanes, only sun-kissed present day paths.

And when you begin to measure yourself in strength, not kilograms; stamina, not inches; smiles, not wealth, you know with beautiful certainty that you’ve arrived.

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