by Meredith Heller | Posted 2/13/22 | Updated 6/26/22
I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. —Attributed to Henry David Thoreau
I am one of those people who needs to move my body every day, or I go bonkers. Can you relate? I hike, swim, bike, and dance, but walking, walking, is my meditation.
I cannot say enough good things about walking. I have gone for a long walk every day of my life since I was about nine years old. Walking is how I do my best thinking and my best un-thinking. When I am walking, the natural cadence of my steps and breath recalibrates my brain and body. Walking makes me feel deeply alive and rejuvenated. No matter what state of mind I'm in, a walk is always the right medicine.
When I walk, I find it easy to let go of my mind chatter and simply be present. One thing I love to do while walking is work on a poem. I can take the skeleton of a poem with me on a walk, and by the time I get home, I have it fleshed out to the rhythm of my stride. I can even take a problem out for a walk, and by the time I get home, I know how to handle it.
Sometimes I have no idea what I want to do with a poem I'm writing or a workshop I'm teaching, and the minute I put my body in motion, literally ten steps into a walk, I suddenly have the whole picture; I know exactly what I want to do and how to do it. Trust your muse. When was the last time you went for a walk? Let's go!
INVITATION: Go for a walk outside, in the rain, snow, or sunshine; take a walk at night. Open your senses. Take in everything. Feel the movement of your body. Sense your heartbeat and breath. Find the rhythm of your stride. Let your body guide you. Allow yourself to let go of your mind and your thoughts and just be present with the natural rhythm of your walking.
Try taking a poem with you and working on it while you walk, saying the lines to yourself, turning them over and over in your mouth until you find their rhythm and they fit together as seamlessly as your stride.
JUST WRITE! Choose five things you notice on your walk: images, feelings, and other sensory information. Write a poem weaving these elements together. Allow the rhythm of your strides, your heartbeat, and your breath to inform your poem.
Walking in the Desert — Miranda, 18
The desert floor cracked
under my feet
as I jumped
from cactus bloom
to cactus bloom.
The air wavered in sheets
My thirst bore a hole in my head
like a sword of focus
pointing me toward
a tilting horizon.
I lost track of time.
My feet blistered and peeled.
I swallowed the sun.
My skin melted.
I drank it like milk.
I surrendered my thorns and needles.
I rolled in the cracked clay
until I shone.
Copyright ©2021 Meredith Heller. All rights reserved.
Meredith Heller studied writing and education in the graduate departments of Johns Hopkins University, Naropa University, and Goddard College. ....