Updated: Feb 23
Using your six senses whilst out walking:
We are approaching the end of winter. I don't need a calendar to tell me this, I can see it and feel it for myself. The days are slowly getting lighter. It's not quite so hard to get out of bed in the morning and our evening is slowly getting longer. I'm not in such a rush to take my doggy companion out for her second daily walk as it stays light until after teatime. Soon the clocks will change and we can take delight in gaining extra light. Winter, like all the seasons serves its purpose. A time to stay in and get cosy, to recuperate, unplug and recharge. A time of planning and thinking before the 'doing' in spring. the increase in light makes everything wake up. Nature is coming out of its slumber, ready to burst forth and show us humans how it is done. The light is motivational, energising and wakes up our sleepy senses. An exciting time of the year and I'm ready...
"And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
― Percy Bysshe Shelley
The daily practise of walking has helped me through winter, I'll be honest with you and tell you upfront that I have had the odd day off, thanks to my husband, who has taken over dog walking duties on the cold, dark mornings that stole my energy. Allowing me that extra hour in bed whilst waking up my creaky joints. Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis means my morning routine is vital to how my day goes. If you haven't looked up the 'Spoon Theory' then you'll find an explanation on Youtube. Walking hasn't been easy some days but getting outside in nature, even if it is just in the garden or a walk round the block really helps me both physically and mentally.
Walking is like meditation for me, it helps clear the mind and brings the soul and body in to alignment with each other. I tend to walk without any extra stimulation, so although I take my phone I tend to use it to take photos and capture any wildlife, botany and nature. I avoid listening to podcasts or music as my walks aren't about just exercising my body but also the spirit, getting lost in thought. I want to use my 6 senses, yes, I do mean 6 senses. Arguably as human beings we have way more than the 5 senses we have all been taught. My sixth sense is the mind, the connection to our higher selves, our consciousness.
"I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw or heard or felt came not but from myself; and there I found myself more truly and more strange."
- Wallace Stevens
Whilst out walking each of our senses are stimulated, it affects our mood, our nervous system, our blood flow and pressure, amongst many other positive effects it has on us.
Sight - Observations are made constantly and I have noticed throughout winter how our views change. Things that were once hidden by foliage, bracken and greenery is exposed to the elements and our eyes. I have taken the time to really look up, down and around this winter. Noticing the frosty cobwebs hanging between seed heads and branches like ghostly fairy hammocks. How the mist lifts slowly during the morning as the temperature rises albeit slightly. Looking up into the naked trees I have seen empty bird's nests that once held delicate eggs. Whilst walking along the lanes and fields, really looking into the hedgerows where the robin joins me on my travels, a glimpse of a mouse nest or an old country wall that has been taken over by the ancient hedge once laid by skilful farmers. As we approach Spring the bulbous heads of the snowdrops, wild yellow daffodils and buttery yellow primrose start to emerge. Rose hips and holly berries still surviving. Mossy bare branches that have been twisted and broken by the wind. I love to see the yellow and lime coloured catkins hanging delicately from branches, as a child thinking they looked like little kitten's tails.
Touch - Releasing my hands from their woolly prison to run my fingers through the catkins as I wander by. The feel of rough and smooth bark as I walk through the woodland and sometimes to stop and just look, a reassuring stroke of my dog's fur. The cold air on my face and hands, breathing it all in, in big breaths of air.
Smell - The smell of coal fires and garden bonfires. The smell of damp rotting leaves under my feet. The muddy pathways that feel great under my feet, safe in my extra pair of socks and wellie boots. As the weather warms up the smell of spring blossom and wild garlic in the woods.
Hearing - With the mornings getting slowly lighter I look forward to the dawn chorus, the sound of happy birds busy rebuilding their nests. Whilst out walking trying to identify the bird calls. The sound of the woodpecker and later the chiffchaffs and cuckoos. The rushing of the stream or the sea. The wind in the trees and the sound of people getting back into their gardens.
Taste - The only thing I have ever foraged are the sloe berries and blackberries in Autumn and I am not confident to forage for much else in the wild, unless I really knew what I was doing, There is an abundance of food and natural medicinal herbs and plants out in nature and I would really love to learn more about nature's cupboard. A flask of hot chocolate or coffee is always nice to take on wintry walks and outdoor picnics have still been possible.
Mind - Whilst out walking I like to clear through my thoughts and try to let them go. I have a mantra which I say to myself in my mind. I guess you could call it my gratitude practice, thanking the universe and counting my daily blessings. Walking sets me the task of telling myself that I do matter. That I am worthy of my place in this world and that I do make a positive impact on the world and the people around me. After my walks I feel refreshed and ready to get things done. I feel more inspired and creative and if I don't then that's ok too. My mind is clear, I have achieved some exercise, some meditation and my reward is a nice cup of tea and a little rest.
Walking is not only great exercise but it's great all round therapy and it's free to us all. I have come to appreciate Mother Earth, her cycles and what nature can provide for us. Teaching us to respect, love and take care of all life forms and our little corner of the world. Spring is just around the corner, Mother Earth is telling us to hold in there, giving us signs that life is just about to start again, the snowdrops and spring bulbs pushing through the cold soil. The buds forming on branches and the birthing of the new lambs. Oh, and just in case you were wondering what my mantra is, it always starts with "I am". Give thanks to the universe, the universe is listening and it hears you.
I am free, I am positive, I am energetic, I am wise, I am healthy, I am creative, I am blessed. The power of I am...
Sending you all love & light, Clare
Stay Naturally Curious...
Strava App to record walks and share them with friends and family on your phone
The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2023 by Lia Leendertz