Walking for Inspiration

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.

More Walking Strategies For:
Weight Loss
Stress Relief
Better Posture

Text by Kate Hanley; photography by John-Francis Bourke

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Comments (2)

  • Mistica 11 Jan, 2008

    Valady49...I don't know if Martha will answer you, but I think this segment says leave your ipod at home because it's talking about walking for inspiration...being with your own thoughts. Walking for stress relief or weight loss? Take your ipod. When I walk for stress relief I want to lose myself in the words or melodies of my favorite songs. When I walk for exercise I like quick paced, get moving music. Remember, it's important to adapt advice to what works for you. Good luck!

  • Valady49 8 Jan, 2008

    Thank-you Martha. I've had a rough couple of years. Mentally and Health wise. About the only exercise I can do is walk. Thank goodness the circle around my subdivision is a little over a mile door to door. I have a question why not the MP3 player. I only do it on one ear for safety sake. But the type of music I like on it is Big Band Swing. And Golden Oldies Rock and Roll. Also I like to take my Papillions with me when I walk .

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