Since getting my dog, Loki, I have had to start taking daily walks in open spaces. It was great whilst working from home, easy peasy and all that.
But then lockdown fully lifted and July 2022 I made a full time move back to the office. I suddenly found the mornings to be a race against time, from getting up, getting the kids up, walking the dog, getting the kids to school and racing to work.
I went through a short spell of feeling frustrated with the decision to get a dog, as he became part of the burden of the day.
This was upsetting though, that I had this gorgeous companion who brought me so much joy and I was losing sight of this joy.
As a result, I made a concerted effort to use the morning walks to my advantage.
It has been well over year now that I began my dog walks with the intention to walk mindfully around the woods. A more meditative walk.
The minute I enter the field I take a deep breath and take in the sights of the field. This winter there have been many days with a white blanket of frost across the field, it has been so pretty. Coupled with the clear blue sky and the crisp, cold air, the daily life of the field; numerous dogs and their humans, school kids and the odd runner is a little sanctuary.
At some point during the walk I tend to steer into the adjacent woods. This is my favourite part, depending on which ‘entrance’ I take depends upon the immediate embrace of the woods. The best bit is towards the top of the woods where the path is lined with Evergreens, this provides a welcome transition from the wintery fields into the magical woods.
‘Hello woods’ I tend to say, as I greet the trees, and think of times gone before and wonder how ancient the woods are. Sometimes I take a moment to rest my hand on a tree and breathe in the connection through my hand to the earth.
As I walk through, my mind will wander and I realise that I am chewing over some argument in my head with so and so. With conscious thought I bring myself back to the woods, I may have to say, ‘Hello trees’ again to recentre myself. I tune into the energy of the woods; the leaves, the squirrels racing up the tree (with Loki launching himself after them). The woodpecker (s) is/are back, and I stop, look up to see if I can spot them. To date I never have. I’d love to see the woodpecker in action.
Some days my mind wanders constantly back to whatever is causing me anxiety – on these days I often need to walk around the woods, verbally articulating everything I can see or hear…”The holly tree, the bridge, the broken rails, the birds tweeting, the sun’s ray through the trees, a dog, another dog…’ and so on. Sometimes this is the only the way to keep me in the woods and connected to the present moment, so as not to allow work or anything take me away from the woods and the present moment.
Other days, I can walk peacefully through the woods, enjoying the time with my mind only wandering periodically.
Though my walks during the week are brief (20 mins) this time to connect with myself and the energy in the woods, sets me up perfectly, my moment of calm before I face the onslaught of my day.