Image by Yogi via Flickr
By Grant Lawrence
"I feel better when I'm working out. It does wonders for the mind. The reason I started running -- it was a switch that went off in my head. I started feeling positive and feeling great about myself."
Eddie Freas, 33, a former drug addict that engages in triathlons to help keep him off drugs.
It is well known how exercise makes you feel better. Although it is an inspiring story that former drug addicts are engaging in extreme physical conditioning for greater happiness and serenity, you don't have to engage in triathlons for greater mental health.
I utilize something that I call "walk therapy" when working with my kids at school. I am a school counselor and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I noticed when I first started working with children, that for many, they found it hard to stay confined for long periods. They weren't much into working on issues or talking when they couldn't sit still.
So I decided to utilize something that has helped me my entire life--walking. I took the students outside for walks around the school track where we discussed what was going on in their lives and in their heads. I gathered them in small groups and I noticed that they responded by feeling better and by doing better. Many of the students were also better able to avoid drug use
This walk therapy, I discovered, is a great way to heal the heart and the mind.
For myself, I presently utilize walking meditation when I am not doing sitting meditation. Basically it is walking in mindful awareness while you let go of thoughts and let the mind settle in clarity. This walking meditation is also a type of "walk therapy."
It is great if you want to run marathons or are into extreme physical conditioning. But for most of us, a simple walk will do wonders. You can use it to help deal with stress and to work on emotional issues as you get exercise. Or you can use it to clear up your mind and heart with a simple routine of mindful walking.
It works. Try it.