In an attempt to get a little more movement into my days I’ve recently started taking walks. And to add a mindfulness practice element to these walks I’ve taken to using them as an opportunity to get in touch with gratitude. I’ve found that infusing gratitude into my walks also helps me to feel more inspired to get out and do it. It feels less exercise and chore like when I’m intentionally looking around to connect and appreciate my surroundings.
Yesterday I walked to the river, which runs through town. One of the bike paths is just two blocks away and goes all the way to the river, about a 30-40 minute walk from where I live. So I hopped on the bike path and away I went, iPod in tow.
In anticipation of writing a blog post about my gratitude walks I also grabbed my camera. This picture was the first one I took yesterday. The bike path I traveled on runs right next to some train tracks for a good portion of the trail and alongside of those stands power poles. I think it can be easy to look at train tracks, power lines and telephone wires as something that scars the beauty of a town’s landscape but when I look deeply I see how wonderful it is to have this infrastructure. The poles and wires that connect us all are amazing! How grateful I am to have the ability to flick a switch and have a light turn on and pick up the phone and talk with a friend. I can also see all of the time, effort, hard labor, and families that were supported in the construction of the railroad tracks, poles, and wires. As I walked past pole after pole yesterday, framed by the blue sky, I looked up in awe and felt full of gratitude.
When I got to the river I took my shoes and socks off and walked along a small stretch of sandy beach (see pic above). The water was cold and refreshing on my bare feet. Then I walked through a field in the park next to the river feeling the soft, spring grass caress the soles of my feet and curl up between my toes. And while for a moment a wave of self-consciousness came over me I noticed it and let it go and proceeded to lay down in the grass, arms spread, smiling with the sun. I thought about what Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) says: The world needs happy people. Which is also to say: The world needs to SEE people’s happiness. So I embraced my joy and made it visible :)
I meandered a different way back home, taking side routes that I had never been on before. I enjoyed walking through neighborhoods, especially those I was unfamiliar with. I passed by a woman working in her flower garden, a young girl with bare feet playing in the dirt, dogs playing together by the baseball field, a man fixing his truck, bicyclists, birds, blooming flowers, cars, and of course so much more. It was such a pleasant and enjoyable walk!
Walking in this way, with the intention of connecting to beauty and practicing gratitude and joy, I am refreshed. Absorbing my surroundings this way creates a great cause for celebrating life and all of its many varied facets. Looking around I see clearly how very much there is to be grateful for and how precious this one life I am afforded truly is. What a gift!