Walk This Way: A Holistic View of Walking

I try to walk at least 30 minutes every day, or at least four times per week. Isn’t that what the experts recommend? I get my phone, set my playlist and bop my way around the neighborhood, sometimes even closing my eyes as I get lost in the music.

But today was different. Today I felt the gentle call of the here and now urging me to go outside and really experience the world for what it was, unbound by sounds pulsing through cords and tiny speakers. So I set out on a leisurely stroll—no headphones, no music, no podcast. I felt naked at first. Exposed. But I was determined to set my comforts aside—and I could hardly believe what happened next.

Through the lens of my senses, life in all its simple glory revealed itself to me with new meaning. With every step I took, I was kindly gifted by life’s treasures.

I saw bottle caps and broken glass, relics of what might have come before.  Oh, I thought, the secrets they could tell. A dad buckling his daughter into her car seat made me wonder what adventure they had in store. I saw children playing double Dutch—sidewalk-chalk art beneath their feet. I remembered playing those games 55 years ago and wanted to jump right back in.

The sun was going down and I heard birds chirping on a wire as the siren from a fire engine echoed in the distance. I passed a home where a teenage garage band was practicing and singing while leaves picked up their rhythm as the wind kicked up. I strolled by a home with tinkling wind chimes and the trickling sound of water from the patio water fountain. I was transported to a trip to my family’s city of origin in Italy where garden fountains proudly displayed family surnames for centuries.

This new way of walking allowed me to free my senses and experience my surroundings in a whole new light.

That’s when I started to feel what I call “love butterflies,” flutters in my stomach, like when my kitty cat is purring peacefully on my lap. Suddenly I became aware that I had goosebumps—not because I was cold but, rather, because I realized all the utter joy and meaning flowing through my body. I could actually feel my own smile.

I wanted to hold tight to this deliberate way of walking, free of distraction, witnessed only by my senses.

Then, out of nowhere—whew, where did that come from?—I was jolted by the smell of garbage and, I think, disposable baby diapers. But thankfully, around the corner, close to my home, wafted the fragrant smell of laundered clothes drying and dinner being cooked. It summoned my taste buds, and my mouth began to water. It was in that second that the streetlights blinked on, snapping me out of my reverie.

As I turned the key to enter my home, I felt calm, yet energized and mesmerized by how very alive I felt by what had just happened within me. I wanted to hold tight to this deliberate way of walking, free of distraction. I felt so whole, and I remembered what my dad always told me: “Find the joy in the little things.” I knew just what he meant.

Closing the door behind me, I caught a glimpse of my headphones resting on a nearby table and smiled, grateful for what their absence allowed me to experience. It may be hard, but the next time you take a walk, consider letting your senses lead the way. Or maybe you’re tempted to skip it altogether because your cell phone isn’t fully charged or you forgot your headphones at work. I challenge you to go anyway. Take the opportunity to let your mind reset without the distractions of technology. Allow yourself to move to nature’s beat. You never know what may happen when you decide to walk this way.

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