Whether you're staring at a blank page or stuck on a problem, a walk may be just the thing you need to bust through a roadblock. It can even set the stage for inspired thinking and major mental breakthroughs, says Thom Hartmann, author of "Walking Your Blues Away," by giving you access to the full range of your thought power. "When we walk, we stimulate portions of the brain in the right and left hemispheres, giving us access to more areas of our brains than when we're sitting still," he explains. "A million years of evolution have equipped our bodies to operate in an optimal way when we're walking," he says. "It's part of our body's normal restorative process." Here are his guidelines for using your daily walk to get out of a mental rut and lure your creativity out into the open.
Skip the Distractions
Wear comfortable clothing, don't carry anything, and leave the iPod at home. This helps you stay open and balanced so you can focus.
Set a Comfortable Pace
Walk at your normal pace, which helps you sync to your body's other rhythmic processes, such as heartbeat and breathing rate, which further creates the conditions for insight to occur.
Visualize Your Dilemma
As you're walking, call up the issue or idea you need clarity on. It can be as richly detailed as a mental image (seeing the finished letter, signed and sealed) or as simple as a question ("What should I say to this person?"). Your mind will inevitably wander; let it. Then, gently guide your thoughts back. Hartmann explains that this interplay between conscious thinking (going over the main points in your mind) and unconscious thinking (daydreaming) brings your whole brain into play and opens you up to inspiration.
Take Your Time
According to Hartmann, the average length of time people require to have a burst in creativity is 15 minutes, or about a mile of walking.
Text by Kate Hanley; photography by John-Francis Bourke