Step #4: Filling with positive thoughts
The third, and final, part of your walk is to fill-up with positive thoughts. This is the crescendo stage of your walk! While you were setting your intention (step #1) for your walk you identified a quality that you needed and wanted present within you. So, while walking and filling with this energy that you will be taking back into your day-to-day world, you will be aligning two things – what you’re filling with and your breath. Your positive energy enters your body through your in-breath, which means you need to synchronize your breathing and your positive thoughts. For example, I think “I am filled with peace” then follow this with a long slow inhale. This is made more powerful by whisper-speaking the words just before an inhale. For example, I softly (but audibly) speak “I am filled with joy” then take my in-breath. So, every few breaths, or when you catch your mind wandering, “fill your sails” with the quality you wish to exude.
Each of my walks has recurring, long-standing gratitudes (“I am grateful for our orange tabby cats with their unconditional love and their live in-the-moment antics”) and unique, just-for-the-day gratitudes (“I am grateful that Liz and I met for coffee and had a great conversation”). And, I have just as many little gratitudes (“I am grateful for seeing my first ever vultures”) as I do large ones (“I am grateful for my good health”). Everyone has enough to be grateful for to span this time. If you find you have more trail than you have gratitudes, then see this as a wake-up call to rev up your appreciation meter; or, if you find that you have more gratitudes than you have trail, then yahoo!
Another way to use this time is to “give thanks” for all that you have in your life by expressing gratitude. Gratitude is an extremely powerful and uplifting way to recognize and appreciate all of the good in your life. Every night I write down three gratitudes from the day, even on the seemingly worst-of-worst days. And, a few years ago I embarked on a daily gratitude practice comprised of outdoor photographs – my “great-full” collection . While walking, you can express gratitudes by thinking them to yourself or whispering them aloud (the more powerful practice is saying them aloud, but either way works). For the last third of your walk, you will fill all of the time and all of your steps by mentally reviewing what you are grateful for – regardless of the time or steps remaining. Whether you have 10 minutes or 30 minutes, the entire time will be filled with remembering and declaring all that is “right” in your life.
Your cup is now filled to the brim with rich, exquisite, organically-grown coffee!
Leslie Gernon is an outdoor guide (i.e., shinrin-yoku walks, wellness walks, and labyrinth events), counselor