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:
ZTT LINK-UP #006