Freshman Andrew Wilhelm and Pablo De Cock go for their daily walk. Photo: Hayes Pollard

Famous English novelist and social critic Charles Dickens was seen walking the streets of Portsmouth, England nearly every afternoon. Born into poverty, which limited his formal education and later having issues with his wife, excessive spending, and various health problems, Dickens was truly dealing with a lot. Dickens wasn’t going on walks for exercise, but rather for inspirations for his writings, reflections and most importantly to give himself a moment of solitude and tranquility in a busy world. 

In the Buddist practice known as “walking meditation” or kinhin, after a long session of work and attentintiveness the monks would go for a walk.  On this walk they would free their mind from the mundane issues of life and simply enjoy the bliss of walking, but more importantly being present. 

You must be present as you walk. Put your phone away, let the worry of completing that next assignment evaporate as you move. Look at your feet. Notice the way they naturally swing forwards. Is it you who’s doing that? Feel the cement of the sidewalk pushing against your feet. Notice the bird on the telefone line. Consider who may have walked on that same very path years or even decades ago. When you feel your responsabilities or desires of the outside world push them away. Empty your mind and think about what you see. Walk away from the thoughts that are preocupying your mind and fill your mind with thoughts of what you are seeing and feeling at the moment. Stress of school and social life can knock you down sometimes, but when that happens what are you gonna do? You aren’t gonna stay sitting, held down by the weight of your worries but you will stand up and walk on. As mountaineer John Muir famously said, “I go [on a walk] to lose my mind and find my soul.”

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