Each morning, I head out on a one-hour walk across the fields and footpaths near my home in Scotland. It’s a familiar route, which has become a normal part of my routine. I know it so well I could almost do it with my eyes closed.
Dull? Boring? Tedious? Well yes, it could be. Especially when the rain is chucking it down, it’s howling a gale and the footpaths are knee-deep in mud!
Life in Auto-pilot
There’s been many a morning when I threw on my coat, and left the house in auto-pilot, lost in the same old thoughts, walking the same old path as the day before, tussling with the same old challenges of my life.
Where was I going? What would I do? Why was it so difficult?
Regardless of the weather, I could easily march along for miles, with my head down, eyes to the ground, oblivious to everything and everybody around me.
Meanwhile, at least the dog was getting walked, and I burned a few calories …. So it wasn’t for nothing. But, by the time I got home, I was wired, champing at the bit … better get on, lots to do!
Did I feel any better for my walk? Was I any more creative, productive or stress-free?
The answer is: a big fat NO.
At best, I'd gained a temporary respite. And nothing else had changed. The questions were still there and I didn’t have any new answers.
A Metaphor for Life
The thing is, when we're in the habit of walking through our lives with our heads down and eyes to the ground, we see only what's at our feet.
We become so concerned with the close-up view and meeting our immediate needs/wants that we see the world from a short-term, 'me' perspective (what I get, what I have, what I do). We get caught in limited, circular thinking that keeps us small and blinds us to the greater possibilities that lie in wait.
And that's a big shame. When we lose - or fail to find - our true sense of purpose, we deny ourselves, and the rest of the world, the chance to benefit from the full range of talents, resources and capabilities that we have at our disposal.
Before we know it, we've disconnected from ourselves and from the land of the living.
We feel lost.
Breaking the cycle
The good news is, we can choose a different approach, and thus a new experience of life - if we want to.
When we decide to stride out with our heads up, fully awake to our environment, and wanting something bigger for ourselves, a switch flicks to 'on', somewhere within us.
Making that conscious choice about how we want to hold ourselves (both physically and psychologically) in our walk through life, fundamentally enables a change in our default perspective.
From being closed off, we suddenly shift to becoming more receptive and energetically aware. Instead of shrinking, we start to grow.
Imagine being outside, walking around with your head up, very aware and present to your natural environment. Day by day, minute by minute, there is something new to see, hear, smell, touch, and even taste.
If we pay close attention, we may even discover there's a gift for us - a lesson to be learned. Maybe a few.
And that’s true of any environment: our workplace, our home, our communities.
We need to pay attention. Switch ourselves 'on.'
This world that we inhabit is a vast and complex system, where nothing ever stays the same. It’s full of possibility. And we are part of that system – not separate.
Whether we like it or not, the winds of change will carry us along and it's up to us to decide if and how we want to navigate that.
Walking the same path - differently
So what happens to us when that switch is flicked? We wake up.
And we begin to see our place in the world in an entirely new way.
It’s not about ‘me’ any more – it’s about ‘we’.
Where we saw just mud or tarmac before, we now see space, distant points on the landscape, brightness.
We remember who we are. What really excites us.
Like a spring bud coming into flower, we begin to ‘open up’, we become integrated with the world around us, and we set ourselves free so we can begin to see and explore new horizons ahead of us.
Where do your walks take you? Downwards and inwards, into the ground, or upwards and outwards, into the world?
Even on a well-trodden path, we can travel to places we’ve hardly dared dream of ….. and we can start to experience that now.