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Table of Contents

Gathering your thoughts during a walk

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

A car drove by whilst honking all the way. It seemed as if the drivers of this city knew best how to use their horns. The taxi drivers loved using their horns for every occasion even if it were just a few seconds after the traffic light had turned green they would blow their horns. People were walking the streets mostly looking down at the ground and their phones. Some were particularly fond of showing others that they were having a phone call. Speaking louder than they needed and holding their phone up to their ears even though it was on speaker already. The architect looked out of his apartment window onto the streets of his home town. It was a spectacle to watch each morning when he was tying up his shoes. As he was tying his left shoe he turned his wrist slightly towards himself and took a quick glance at his watch.

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“SHIT!” I need to be at work in 10 minutes. He sloppily finished his shoelaces, grabbed his coat from the couch, and his keys from the kitchen countertop, and rushed out. The architect was used to this rush, his morning was filled with snoozing way too often, quickly getting up and making his breakfast and then rushing out to be on time for his shift at work. He left the building and was hit by the stinking smell of gasoline in combination with that of the hotdog and burger stand just on the corner of the street. It was a toxic combination, but it always reminded him of the city. He looked at his watch again… Only 7 minutes left. “What?! How in the hell did he use up 3 minutes to get from his floor down onto the streets?” He thought to himself. He had to run for it. If not he would be too late for his job. So he did.

He closed his coat so it wouldn’t blow in the wind as he ran to his office. And there he went, quickly maneuvering through the thick crowds of people. Occasionally bumping into others who then angrily looked around and said some nasty words to him. “MOVE!” He shouted to a group of people completely blocking the sidewalk. They quickly moved to the side and the architect rushed past. His body wasn’t the only thing rushing, his mind too. It was thinking of the upcoming day. All the work he had to be doing and the thought of being too late, again, scared him to death. It gave him an extra boost to run even faster. Sweat was dripping down his back, soaking his shirt. The architect knew that and had, had many occasions where this happened. But he didn’t care. He sat in an office by himself, so no one would be bothered because of it. He kept running, one after the other face passed him by. He looked up towards a big clock on the side of a building. The building was filling with men and women ready to start their workdays, yet more relaxed and calm than he was. He didn’t pay attention to where he was running and ran into a woman. Both of them knocked down on the ground and an array of papers she was holding flew in the air. “Shit, I am so, so, so sorry.” The architect said. His face turned red. He looked at his watch he had only 3 minutes left to run down the street, turn right, then run for another 500 meters, turn left, and then he would just have to go to his building in the middle of the street and clock in. But he couldn’t leave the woman here alone. He had caused this mess. So he quickly grabbed all her papers and fumbled them back together. You could clearly see that she wasn’t fond of this, but he was in a rush. He once again apologized for what he did, but then continued his run.

He made it just in time. Barely able to breathe, and his back soaked in sweat. He clocked in, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, and went straight to his office. This was the final time he would allow himself to do this. He was done rushing to work every day, especially this time, bumping into such a kind lady but ruining her day as well. He smacked himself with a flat hand in the face. His hand left a red mark on his forehead and at that very moment, one of his colleagues came in. “Is everything okay?” She asked both trying to keep in her laugh and being genuinely worried about him. “Yes, yes I am fine. Just had a little bit a stressful morning.” He replied. “I should get to work, I already started late today.” He added indicating that he would rather be left alone. “Oh yeah, I see. I just wanted to check in on you.” Said his colleague annoyed and disrespected. “Damn it, this rushing makes me an asshole.” The architect thought to himself. First the lady on the streets now my colleague who was just trying to be nice to me. The architect turned to his work hoping to forget it all…

A love, hate relationship

The architect had a busy day at work. It all started with many cups of coffee to get him going and to suppress the stress he was feeling. He knew that the coffee would not help him to relax after work, but the stress from this morning was making him unfocused. Especially knowing how rude he had been to two people who didn’t deserve it. He looked out of the large window in his office, he looked out over the skyline of his city. He wondered and thought of new designs for his new project. He needed it badly, he hadn’t come up with any new designs for the entire week and needed to finish the project by the end of this week. A colleague enters his office, gently knocking on the bamboo door and peeking through the glass wall next to it. The architect gestured to come in, but he wasn’t pleased to be interrupted. So he didn’t turn around to his colleague and gazed out of the window. “I was wondering if you wanted to go for a coffee with me? Just to clear our heads?” It was the colleague of this morning, he instantly turned around and wanted to say yes, but then remembered he needed to do so much work. “No, I am sorry.” The words left his mouth quickly and without any compassion. His colleague was offended and didn’t say anything. She just turned around and left the office. “Wait what? What did I do wrong he wondered?” He was so caught up in his own stress and thoughts that he didn’t even notice the rude and tone of voice he just used.

The architect finished his workday but hadn’t come up with an idea the entire day. He wasted precious time and left the office stressed, anxious, and angrily. He quickly rushed down the stairs and made his way back home. This time not in a rush, but still looking down at the ground, at a quick pace. He didn’t bump into anyone this time. But he didn’t see that his colleague who he had offended many times today was walking next to him. She didn’t say anything and wanted to see if he noticed her.

“Why can’t I just start my day off slowly?” The architect wondered. “I am so frustrated, I’ve tried getting up earlier and meditating, I even tried to get a morning routine going. It just didn’t walk. I either go back to bed or fall asleep whilst meditating or having breakfast. I need that sleep!” His thoughts were frustrated and he kicked a pebble away that hit another man on his leg. The man looked furious at him, but the architect kept looking at the ground. “I need that sleep, I am making 10 sometimes even 12 hours a day at work and I need that sleep to be creative.” But what the architect didn’t see that most of his 12 hours at work were spent looking out the window trying to come up with new ideas and designs. His thoughts were blocked by his stressed-out mornings. The architect wanted to do something different the next morning, something drastically different but didn’t know what this could be. He was in a love-hate relationship with his stressful mornings. On the one hand, he needed the sleep, on the other he craved a sense of peace. “Uhguh” his colleague coughed and the architect was pulled out of his thoughts. “Wait what? What are you doing here? Don’t you need to go the other way to your home?” The woman smiled, “yes I have but I am worried about you.” “Don’t” He said, again with an ignorant and annoyed tone of voice. “Don’t it?!” She said back angrily. “I have been trying to help you the entire day and all I get is an angry and annoyed reaction. Don’t I deserve a little attention here?” The woman was scared by her own tone and looked down at the ground. “I am sorry, I let myself go there.” The two of them stayed quiet for some time.

The architect noticed that the woman was walking really slowly and looked all around her. She was scanning the people’s faces, their clothing, the buildings, she touched walls and felt their texture, and continuously had a smile on her face. A content and gentle smile. We all know that feeling when we know we have to speak up and ask something, but don’t really know what to ask. The architect was going through this as his colleague seemed to be amazed by the world. He just knew she wanted to tell him something but that she wouldn’t do it until he asked her to.

A gaze of wonder

“So what are you doing right now?” The architect finally found the courage to break the silence, but his question wasn’t really that friendly. “HAHAHA,” the woman laughed, “That sounds as if I am being weird, do you think I am weird?” She asked him, not feeling offended by his question. “Yes, I do think you’re acting strange. You are not speaking, and just looking at the world as if you are in the garden of Eden.” “Aren’t we?” She asked genuinely, leaving a void for him to fill. “No we are not,” he replied. “We are in a stinking, ugly ass city.” He was frustrated about his colleague’s tone of voice. “Hmm, do you really think this is an ugly city? I love it actually. In its imperfections, I have found the greatest of ideas for new buildings and architectural designs.” “Now you are just bragging,” the architect said, walking quicker wanting to leave her. “No, no,” she said picking up her pace and grabbing her colleague by his black leather jacket. “I wanted to help you today, but you didn’t let me. I’ve seen you rushing in every morning the last couple of weeks, barely on time, and completely stressed out. So I wanted to go for a walk with you, to teach you something.” She said gently smiling at a stranger who passed by. “Well aren’t we walking right now?” He said. “Yeah, we are.” She replied. “Then what did you wanted to teach me?” The architect asked frustrated, looking angrily at a stranger, who in return gave him a roll of her eyes. “I wanted to teach you, that which you think is weird.” She said. “And that is?” He replied.

“Well the thing you just called weird, that is what I want to teach you.” She chuckled. “You mean the weird-looking around, touching buildings and acting as if you are a child who is making his very first steps into this world.” He was getting more and more annoyed by his colleague. “Yes, that is what I wanted to teach you. But I think you don’t want to hear it.” She turned around and walked the other way in an instant. The architect was startled and stood still. Looking at his colleague who just walked away. “How rude!” He thought to himself. “Why is she just walking away?” He whispered to himself. “HEEE WAIT!” He shouted after her. But she just continued on her path, looking at the world as a small kid. “Huh” the architect released a sigh of annoyance and started to run after her. He quickly catches up to her. “I am sorry, what did you want to say.” He said to her, catching his breath again. “I didn’t want to tell you anything. I wanted to show you something.” She said not even mad at him for what he just said. “I am walking in peace.” She said and then stayed quiet. She continued walking in the other direction and going into alleyways at random. The architect kept following her but wasn’t sure if he should ask her anything. After some time the woman continued with her story.

“You see I am walking in peace every day. Every morning I go into different streets, see different buildings, new lighting conditions, new people, new faces and I just wonder a bit. It’s my daily commute to work.” She said, happily smiling that the architect was finally listening and looking around him as well. She could see he was looking around him but didn’t truly see. He was still caught in thoughts. “My walk to work is my meditation.” She said after a moment of silence. The architect looked at her in confusion. “But doesn’t meditation have to be in a silent room, sitting on the ground, breathing softly, and making sure your thoughts don’t wander?” The woman slightly laughed and closed her eyes, knowing that most people see meditation that way. “I know, most people see it that way. But the core of meditation is to be present in the world, whenever, wherever. So sitting down on the ground is a great way to do that, but it’s not the easiest way for us to start. Some people need a different way to get their minds cleared as well as actively getting their body ready for the day.” She left a moment of quiet for the architect to gather his thoughts. A couple of cats walked by and stroking their heads against the woman’s leg. She smiled. “He there, little ones. How are you today?” She said. “Do you know them?” The architect asked. “No I don’t I just like to greet animals, it makes me feel happy.” The architect chuckled and found it extraordinarily weird.

The benefits of meditative walking

“But I didn’t want to teach you how to speak to cats.” His colleague said. “I wanted to teach you about the extraordinary benefits of meditative walking. I saw you rushing into the office this morning. It was the worst I saw you enter the building in a long time. Why was that?” She asked the architect. “I… I am just not a morning person.” He said trying to cover up the fact that he got up late because he snoozed often. “Oh, are you? Now that is bullshit.” The woman said, her tone changed quickly changed. “I want to help you, so be honest with me, if you can’t do that I’ll just make my way back home.” She said with passion. “Okay, okay I am sorry. It’s just that…” The architect had to pull together and be vulnerable. “My morning is just not what I want it to be. I want to get up early and meditate but for some reason, it just doesn’t work its magic. I either snooze or fall back asleep during breakfast or meditating.” He looked down at the ground ashamed. “That’s completely normal.” She said comforting him. He looked at her with hope in his eyes. “You see most people feel sluggish when they get up and forcing yourself to meditate isn’t the way to calm down. You will most certainly fall asleep. It’s that simple. Your body needs to wake up, and that is why I do this morning walk of meditation. I get up about half an hour earlier than I am supposed to, make my breakfast and eat it, and then just start walking. I don’t know where to go I just know it will get me started and I love it. I slowly make my way towards work and by the time I get there I feel energized, peaceful, rejuvenated, and focused.” The architect is looking in awe at the woman. “Can I really do that? Won’t I fall asleep?” The woman laughed, and the architect laughed too. “Of course you won’t, you’re walking how could you fall asleep whilst walking hahaha.”

“No, but if I walk I firstly get my body moving. I get energy into it and make it feel alive. This gets the mind going so that I can start to focus on the here and now. Now what you see as being silly and childish is actually a wonderful tool. A kid loves to look at the world because everything is new to him. We are kinda losing contact with that kid inside us and think more than we experience. My inner child is reborn and it sees the world as it is. I don’t see an ugly city, I just see a city that is beautiful and alive. I see the different designs of buildings, different lights, and people. All unique, all different and special. It makes me grateful for being alive. It makes me appreciate the morning and that gratitude settles in my heart. Making me more energized and resilient for the day. You know why?” She said, answering the question herself before the architect could answer. “Because gratitude settles in the heart and makes us less likely to go with negativity and toxic people. It’s as if there is an antidote in the heart for toxicity.”

She smiled and toucher her heart. “Do you see that ray of golden sunshine peeking through that alleyway over there? I enjoy seeing that. It makes me grateful and feeds my creativity. I think of new ways that the light could help my architectural designs look better. This gratitude helps me feed my creativity.”

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Tips on meditative walking

“Now if I may I want to give you some tips that you can use yourself tomorrow morning.” The woman said. “First of

  1. Get your body moving.

This is so important. Meditating in the morning when we are sleepy doesn’t work, we will fall back asleep. But meditating whilst giving your body the well-needed exercise serves to purposes. Both getting your body and mind fit.

The second thing to do is to

  1. Wander and feel grateful.

See the world as a kid again. Be thankful for all you see and try to draw inspiration from it all. It feeds your creativity and joy in this life. The third would be to

  1. focus on the here and now.

Now gratitude already gets this started, it gets your mind ready to look at everything that is happening around you. But focussing on the here and now gets your mind ready for a focused day of work. If you can focus on your breath, the people, the world. You will see that work will happen more effectively and you are less likely to be distracted by outside noise or inside thoughts. And finally

  1. Smile at strangers and help them

This is something I’ve been doing lately that has drastically improved my joy and compassion for others. If I see a stranger in need of help I will rush in and help them. That will feed my soul with joy and my heart with compassion. That is the reason why I quickly noticed you being stressed and not yourself. So in short, get your body moving to feel energized, and rejuvenated. Wander and feel grateful to feel joy and feed your creativity. Focus on the here and now to no longer be a victim to your thoughts and be more focused at work. And finally, smile and stranger and help them to be more compassionate and feed your soul with joy. All of this will help you to feel peaceful and ready for the day at work to start.” The woman smiled at her colleague and gave him a hug.

“Thank you so much.” The architect said. “I don’t know how to thank you” He added. “Well a cup of coffee tomorrow afternoon would serve that purpose very well,” she said winking at him. “I’ll take care of that! So we will meet at work tomorrow?” He asked her. “Yes, we will.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek and said “I will go home now, it’s getting late and I’ll need to do my morning walk tomorrow.” Smiling at the architect. She then walked off in the direction of the sun and her home. The architect smiled and was deeply grateful for his colleague. He felt a strange sensation in his stomach growing…

If meditation doesn’t work for you

If meditation doesn’t work for you I can highly recommend you use this technique of morning walks. Or afternoon and evening walk. Walking can be a great replacement for meditation. So see if you like it. Go out for a walk and enjoy the world. I can guarantee you that you will feel energized, peaceful, rejuvenated, focused, resilient, and full of creativity afterward. It is a perfect way to remind yourself that

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