ZEN TIP TUESDAY #8
For ZTT #8 I welcome Jan Wild who is sharing her thoughts on finding zen when walking in suburbia, but also – no matter where you are! Jan and I recently met in person (at a modelling gig – but that’s a whole other story). She is one of our Australian midlife bloggers and lives about 1 hr 45 mins north of me (Brisbane), at Noosaville on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. You can find out more about Jan and how to connect with her in her bio at the end of this post.
For anyone linking up for the ZTT Link-Up #006, welcome and thank you.
Ciao from me, and enjoy!
WALKING AND NATURE
I love to walk. Not only is it good for my physical health but also my mental health. Of course it is also largely free (once you have good supportive walking shoes) and you can pretty much walk anywhere in the world. Walking is my number one tool for finding my zen.
And yes, you can do that in suburbia! Of course we all have the ideal image of walking barefoot on the beach on a beautiful summer day, but for many of us that isn’t a reality. So how do I find my zen in suburbia?
As well as the physical and mental health benefits, I find walking is an excellent way to connect with nature. I have been fortunate for the past ten years to live in beautiful natural environments; first Mallacoota in Victoria and now Noosaville in Queensland. And there is no doubt that there is ‘more obvious nature to see’ in those places than in a densely populated capital city.
Having said that, I believe that how deeply you connect with your natural environment is as much about your mental attitude and your focus than it is about where you live and walk. I am reminded of William Blake’s line ”to see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower”.
HOW TO FIND YOUR ZEN IN SUBURBIA
I find my zen when walking by deliberately focussing on nature as it surrounds me. I am not by any definition a fast walker, and I am happy with that. I love to walk slowly and look around. This is how I am able to connect with nature. I use my walking time to look at the trees, the birds, the water, the flowers that have fallen on the path. I take time to feel the warmth of the sun on my body and the coolness of the breeze. I engage all five senses, I breathe deeply and enjoy the perfumes of nature; be that from flowers, from eucalyptus gum oils, or from the ocean.
At times I am so captivated by a beautiful tree I absolutely must touch it and feel the bark, is it rough or is it smooth? How beautiful are those poinciana or jacaranda flowers, how delightfully spiky looking but soft to the touch a banksia can be.
And of course I love to listen to the sounds; the calls of the birds, the rush or splash of water, the breeze rustling through the trees.
At the halfway point of my walk I like to stop and sit for a while. This isn’t a time to rush, it is a time to truly connect with nature. That may mean stepping off the track to smell a flower or sitting and watching the lazy river.
Yes, when it comes to connecting in nature the ideal for me is to walk barefoot on the sand by the ocean. The sense of touch is magnified through my feet and all the elements are present – the sand as earth, the breeze as wind, the sun as fire and of course the ocean as water. But one doesn’t always have the opportunity to walk by the ocean, so it is important to make those connections wherever one walks.
I have connected with nature in large cities like Paris and Barcelona by looking up at the sky, perhaps even feeling some gentle rain on my face and my body. I challenge you next time it is raining (not too hard, no need to be a drowned rat) to walk outside without an umbrella or wet weather gear. Stand in the rain for a short time, preferably barefoot, and allow yourself to feel nature through the pores of your skin and to smell the delicious smell of the rain.
Another favourite suburban connection is the smell of freshly mown grass; yours, your neighbour’s in a council managed park. There are few smells more evocative and refreshing. And if you are in a park, allow yourself to sit awhile and watch the birds, perhaps even the neighbourhood dogs; what is more joyful than watching a dog at play.
Take a good look at what is growing in your neighbour’s garden, look at the shapes and colours of the different houses and fences, listen for the tweet of a bird, feel the texture of a leaf that has fallen on the footpath. The possibility of a connection with nature is all around you, it is like Mother Nature is just waiting for you to seek her out.
So next time you are out walking take time to feel the connection with nature, breathe it in and experience the zen of that connection.
Jan Wild lives on the Sunshine Coast with her partner Rowan. They are both great believers that retirement should be the best time of your life and that planning for a joyful retirement must include much more than financial planning. You can find their Retiring not Shy blog and social media here:
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ZTT LINK-UP #006
Hello MIn & Jan! Jan, I totally agree about walking and being able to connect with nature even in suburbia. You have described perfectly how to take a ‘Mindfulness Walk’, taking in the beauty of nature rather than just powering along. We live across from a park and also near the Brisbane River so I have many lovely spots in the City to walk and enjoy. In the park are some ancient Moreton Bay Figs and their trunks and root system are huge. I often wonder what stories they could tell us. I also love the smell of freshly mown grass it takes me back to my childhood. This was a lovely post to read, thank you Jan and also thank you Min for the #ZTT series. Have a beautiful day ladies. xx
I absolutely LOVE walking. I’m lucky that there’s a lovely waterfront esplanade near where I live that is beautiful to walk along – the sounds of water and birds and of course a lovely cool sea breeze. I also love beach walks and rainforest walks. Once upon a time I used to put my ear buds in and listen to ‘motivating’ music as I powered along. Nowadays I prefer to be more present and listen to the sounds of nature instead. I also like to notice the little things like light, shadows, reflections, breezes, rustling leaves, birds, etc. You live in a wonderful spot too Sue – being near parks and the river and even the city is fascinating for people watching and I love all the old buildings – the architecture! Have a wonderful day Sue! xo
Hi Min I love the Manly Esplanade and yes, I’m fortunate to have many beautiful areas even though I’m very close to the CBD. I love running through the Botanical Gardens. Thank you for sharing at #MLSTL and I hope you have a beautiful day. xx
Oh the botanical gardens would be fabulous to enjoy nearby to home Sue! Thank you for sharing the post! xo
Ah Jan, I so agree with walking as a way to connect with my surrounds and to take me ‘out of my head’. I did one such walk yesterday noticing all the thingsI could: the way the tide was turning in the creek, the sun’s location as it was afternoon rather than morning, the call of some ducks as they foraged for food.
Another walk I do when it is not wonderful outside is in our large regional shopping centre. There I can browse as I walk, observe others and maybe have a coffee at the end.
Lovely post and reminder Min & Jan!
You guys are all making me wanna go for a walk right now! LOL BUT it’s far too hot here in Brisbane at the moment so maybe later in the day. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing some walking in the house as I do some more mopping! Of course my favourite walking is outdoors in nature. I love this post of Jan’s as it points out so beautifully all the things that people often miss when they walk and how easily we can be mindful and present. Have a wonderful day Denyse! xo
Hi Min and Jan, I totally agree with you about the benefits of walking! I love nothing more than wandering through the forest near my house every day discovering new things each time, noticing seasonal changes, coming upon kangaroos having a rest, listening to the birds singing around me. Whenever I travel I always love a walk to discover the sights, sounds and smells of a different locality – a fab post! I have linked up for the first time with an updated post about finding zen through reading, but think I may have missed the mark!!
Oh Debbie I’m so envious of the forest near your house! It’s my dream to leave suburbia and live more rurally and yes – near a forest or rainforest – surrounded in nature! Nature is my happy place. BTW – your post on reading is completely on the mark – in fact, I’m mid way through writing a similarly themed post as part of the series! Thanks so much for linking up with #ZTT xo
That’s great to hear Min, I’m glad top be on the right page and look forward to reading your future post. Sharing for #mlstl
Thank you for sharing Debbie! xo
Walking is a favourite “Zen” moment for me too Jan. We live in a lovely part of the world and it’s wonderful to be able to walk out your front door and breathe in fresh air (no smog or pollution) and get in touch with with all the beauty around us. Nice to see you here sharing the Zen love with Min x
You’re right Leanne – we’re very fortunate with the country we’ve been born into aren’t we? I love walking out in the fresh air and nature too! I’m really looking forward to some cooler weather so I can do more of it … and at any time of day! xo
Hi Min – just back with MLSTL and wanted to let you know that I’ve shared your post on my SM x
Thank you for sharing the post Leanne! xo
Hi Min and Jan – I agree with you about the benefits of walking and mindfulness. I walk 6x/ week, even in the cold winter here, and enjoy my time with nature. #MLSTL
You’re so good walking 6x/week even in the cold and snow you get over there Natalie! I love time out in nature too – its essential for my wellbeing I’m finding. xo
Hi Min – The main thing is clear side walks, without an icy surface. Fortunately, the side walks where I live get cleared quickly so I can walk safely pretty much throughout the winter. Snow is not an issue for walking. It’s fun to play in the snow and snowshoeing gives a good workout. Some people think we get snow every day in the winter but it’s not true. Thank you for linking up Wellness Wednesday. The next link up is on April 10. The optional prompt is Healthy Mind.
Thanks for the snow info Natalie! I know nothing about living with snow. Can’t imagine walking in snow shoes! 😂 It’s wonderful that your sidewalks are cleared so you can still get out and be active over there! xo
Very beautiful post. I love to walk and it leads to my zen, Thanks for sharing it. #MLSTL
Glad you enjoyed the post Patrick!
The walking on the warm sunny sandy beach is more my style but I do enjoy the sun and smell of fresh cut grass. I am blessed to live in a nice community that is easy to walk in.
Oh isn’t walking along the beach just the best! I crave it right now! I’m glad you have a lovely community in which to walk Victoria. xo
A lovely post that has me in the mood for a nice long walk to enjoy this almost-spring day!
I agree, that while the beach is my very, very favorite spot to be (now thousands of miles away from one – sigh) it’s amazing the small spots of nature that you can find in unexpected locations.
I was working at a large craft/home decor retailer with a store in a large retail shopping center. We only had 30 minutes for lunch which didn’t leave a lot of time to leave & drive down to a park or pond that was close by. I could, but then I’d only have about 10 minutes to enjoy and then had to dash back to work. I discovered that if I walked behind the building. there was a huge elevated grassy area between the shopping center and the neighborhood behind us. All I had to do was hike up a not too steep slope and it was like having a huge, private green park all to myself. Just me and the birds, the trees…and a few ants LOL
Sharing for MLSTL
What a fabulous discovery nearby to your work to enjoy at lunchtime Trisha! It’s amazing how revived and uplifted we can feel by spending a bit of time in nature! 🙂 xo
I love walking as well. I belong to a history walking group and love to look up at buildings and spot the small details.
Oh I love old buildings! A history walking group would be fascinating! 🙂
I recently moved into a good walking neighborhood. It has sidewalks everywhere. I’m not used to that, the last three places I lived didn’t have sidewalks so walks could sometimes be risky based on the drivers.
I’m so pleased you’re in a neighborhood where you can walk Jennifer! I can’t imagine not having sidewalks (we call them footpaths) as here in Brisbane, Australia I’ve always had footpaths and lived in suburbs where walking is very easy and accessible.
I do think I need to get better at slowing down and “smelling the roses” literally and figuratively. Now that I am in better control of my own schedule I find I am doing this more frequently.
So good for us in so many ways.
I love being outdoors so much more now.
Hi Nancy! It’s one of the good parts of mid-life isn’t it? More time for ourselves (hopefully)! Slowing down and making time to smell the roses (so to speak) is bliss and yes – very good for us! 🙂