It’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and I’ve decided to allow my feet to carry me, wherever they might want to go. Without any thought, expectation or direction, I step outside the streets of San Francisco and embark on an adventure of the senses. Allowing myself to be swept up in the energy of curiosity and joy, I feel fully alive and grateful for all the unseen experiences this city has yet to reveal. Today, I make no plans to meet friends, attend appointments or travel to a place I need to go or be. Instead, I feel the sun on my face, breathe the fresh air and begin to walk. At my first street stop I turn right. Then, without hesitation, I take a left, then just straight, almost as if there was a magnet pulling me towards some unseen force. Along the way I marvel at all the beautiful storefronts, interesting street characters and inhale the smell of morning pastries and coffee lingering in the air.
One of the most liberating and enjoyable mindfulness practices you can do, especially for those living in cities or urban environments, is to take a day, a morning or even a few hours to let your feet just carry you. For so many of us it becomes easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle of city living and begin “future tripping” as a friend of mine once put it. Letting our minds wander to our work, our relationships, our monthly bills, family issues or whatever else might be on our minds is a natural and yet toxic habit if left unchecked. There is a vital difference between healthy stress and too much stress that can cause the body to become sick and the mind to become imbalanced and dysfunctional. Many times people without any form of meditation have no active way of clearing their mind and thus these natural thoughts about the future or the past begin to build up, creating stress, anxiety and many times imbalanced behaviors. Addictions, depression, anger and compulsions quite often stem from this lack of release from the clutter that accumulates in our mind when we are not present.
Thus, for those of you who find it hard to sit down, close your eyes and just breathe, this walking practice is an excellent way of clearing the mind and “checking out” in order to allow your parasympathetic nervous some seriously needed rehabilitation time. All it takes is a pair of comfortable walking shoes, some nice sunny weather, and you are off to the races. Pick a day and time, leave your phone at home and just set out on an adventure. You will be surprised where your feet will carry you. Let go of fears of getting lost, because in the end, your feet always know the way back home.