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Lonely Walks As An Awareness Practice

Lonely walks as an awareness practice

This is Micha writing here.

During these lockdown times, I regularly take an extended walk during my breaks from work. I walk from home, without a specific destination, and see where it takes me.

Often, during the first ten minutes, my head is still full of thoughts like:

MAILS MAILS MAILS I STILL HAVE TO CALL ALESSANDRO WHAT ARE WE EATING FOR DINNER TONIGHT WHAT TIME IS IT DO I HAVE MY KEY WITH ME DID I LOCK THE DOOR WHEN DO I HAVE TO BE HOME HOW MUCH DOES OUR APARTMENT COST WHERE DOES THIERRY ACTUALLY LIVE TODAY I SHULD CALL REBECCA HOW IS MY FATHER DOING RIGHT NOW……………..

Thus, it turns and turns. I feel dull. I hardly notice where my steps are taking me.

And then I begin to focus on my breathing.

“I notice my breathing… I notice my breathing…” I murmur silently to myself with each breath.

The longer I focus my attention on my breathing, the better I start to notice the rest of my body. I feel the increasing and decreasing pressure on the soles of my feet with each step I take. I feel the movement in my shoulders as my arms dangle back and forth. I notice how my jaw relaxes.

I murmur silently to myself, “I perceive the movement of my jaw.”

And then I notice the wind blowing against my face. I notice the low sun. I notice the reddish glow of the clouds. I notice a bird circling over the fields. 

I murmur silently to myself: “I perceive a bird circling over the fields”.

Increasingly, I no longer perceive only my body, but also the world around me. And my body in this world. I feel warm. Awake. 

I perceive a person coming towards me.

I notice my pulse. I notice warmth in my chest.

I see the person’s gait, their size. I imagine it is a man.

I murmur to myself, “I see its gait. I imagine it is a man.”

I see the coat the person is wearing. I imagine I know this person, that it is my good friend Thibault.

“I see his coat. I imagine it is Thibault.”

I feel a tension in my neck.

“Thibault is in Denmark,” I think.

I notice features of the person’s face.

I imagine it’s a young man, maybe 20. Thibault is this not.

We cross paths. I make eye contact. I imagine it’s a student. I imagine us kissing. I imagine us fighting. I imagine that my nose is bleeding.

I’m aware of the wind brushing my face. 

I feel my pulse.

I think: What an adventure is going in in my head as I run into this random person.

I feel warmth in my face.

I continue walking. The bird is still circling over the field. I imagine he is lonely. I notice that I’ve assumed the bird is male.

I walk on for about an hour. I continue to surrender to this stream of perception and imagination. And I entertain myself in a delightful way. 

After some time, I arrive back home. I feel awake, inspired, full of energy. I sit down. I notice the pressure on my butt as it meets the chair. I turn the computer back on and write this text to you.

PS: I also recommend walking in pairs like this, taking turns to share aloud what you are each noticing and imagining.

If you’d like, check out these tips from Tuulia for how to take care of yourself in times of social isolation:

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