The Life Changing Magic Of Walks


I walk every day that I can. I never thought I would, yet it's become something I can't imagine my week without. My walks are my safe space, my joyful movement, my mental health routine, my gift to myself.

If you'd have asked me about walks a year ago, I'd have told you they are not a real workout, and hence pointless.  They are good for senior citizens or dog owners, that they are boring and time taking. So what changed?

I was on a Mutter-Kind-Kur this autumn, which is a rest cure for mothers, something paid by the German universal health-care. I got a place in what is one of the most idyllic cure places in the entire country, and the entire four weeks were amazing. Apart from all the treatments for the body and the mind that we got, we were told to take daily walks in the hills that stretched right before the door. My city-girl ass wasn't exactly excited at this prospect. I went on very slow, very short walks and tried to avoid going uphill. After the first week I noticed that my walks were getting easier and longer. And that they were having a huge impact on my mental health.

My walks start with my head full of swirling thoughts,  I look at the ground. After a hundred steps or so by walk relaxes into a rhythm, my back and my pelvis straighten themselves out into a comfortably neutral position. I noticed that I walk differently when I'm taking a walk than when I'm trying to get somewhere -- my posture is different and my mental space is different. At the end of every walk my mind is calm, my gaze is straight, and I am aware of the leaves and the wind and the sky.

“Above all, do not loose your desire to walk.
Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.
I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” 
-- Kierkegaard

The walks themselves were gorgeous, especially the ones in bad weather. One morning I walked through a silent wall of white mist, the path ahead and behind me barely visible. And then, suddenly, I was on the shoulder of the mountain and at the edge of the earth -- on the other side was a raging storm, and I could see nothing apart from swirling clouds. It's an experience that has stayed with me.

Not all my walks are that beautiful, or long. Sometimes I'm not feeling well and only make it down the street and back again. Other days I bike to a forest. Walking away from people and houses, in nature, has a whole different quality. I rarely ever plan how long I will walk. I just start, and then walk till I feel myself in my heart.

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