Take a Walk

We’ve all heard of – and experienced, I hope – the benefits of letting ideas come to you while you’re engaged in other activities. Light bulbs go off while we’re in the shower, or washing dishes and we’re not even trying to solve a thorny problem.

Doing tasks that engage different modalities and parts of the brain open us up to new ideas. Drawing, coloring, dancing, or building something with Legos can give our minds freedom and space for fresh thinking to come in.

I used to run. And anyone who has ever run knows the beauty of what happens when you say “I’m going for a run to clear my head.” It’s one of the joys of running.

Here is a plug for going for a walk when you have some thinking to do. Maybe to get from point A to point B. But even if you don’t have to go somewhere, just get up and go for a walk. Walking outdoors is certainly nice. But even walking around the house, or your office building will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be a long walk. The only thing to keep in mind, in these days of constant connection, is that if you are desiring to free your mind so you and it can address a challenge or problem or just get inspired, best to walk unplugged. Keep the phone off!

And in case you need more of a push to motivate you to take a walk when you have some thinking to do, there’s this from Rebecca Solnit’s 2000 book Wanderlust: A History of Walking.

“The multiplication of technologies in the name of efficiency is actually eradicating free time by making it possible to maximize the time and place for production and minimize the unstructured travel time in between. New timesaving technologies make most workers more productive, not more free, in a world that seems to be accelerating around them.”

And this:

“The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making. And so one aspect of the history of walking is the history of thinking made concrete – for the motions of the mind cannot be traced, but those of the feet can.”






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