March 8

The sovereign invigorator
of the body is exercise,
and of all the exercises
walking is the best.

Thomas Jefferson


Today's Meditation:

A life without exercise is, simply, a life without vigor.  Exercise doesn't mean hours at the gym, sweating and working until every muscle in your body is sore, but it does mean sometimes making a decision to let other things go for an hour or two so that you can take care of one of the most important elements of your life on this planet:  your body. 

I don't need to go into the effects of neglecting our bodies--those are well documented and strongly publicized.  What does astonish me, though, is the fact that so many people know that they're sabotaging their health by not exercising, yet make no decisions that will help them to change that pattern.  It's especially perplexing when it's so well known, as Jefferson stated so long ago, that walking is an absolutely wonderful way to keep our bodies functioning well and to maintain our health at high levels.

Walking is extremely low impact, yet it helps the heart and muscles to strengthen and to tone, especially for people who haven't done any exercise for a while.  It also can help us with our awareness--while we walk we see and hear and feel things that we simply aren't aware of while we're locked up in our homes and offices.  We experience the spring breeze and the warmth of the sunshine, we feel the wetness of the rain or the snow on our skin, we hear the songs of birds and the sounds of life (what Neil Diamond called "Beautiful Noise"), and we feel our bodies in motion, which really is a beautiful feeling.

Our world of today--especially in the U.S.--is not amenable to walkers.  Some towns don't even have sidewalks here.  We're addicted to our vehicles, and we're so used to driving that we often don't even consider taking that two-mile walk to the store for some milk.  But I can tell you honestly that my wife and I make that walk regularly, and those are some of the best hours that we spend together as we talk about our lives and the things that we see as we walk.

Done well, walks can help us to get to know our cities, towns, and neighborhoods; they can help us to see the same trees and bushes in winter, spring, summer and fall; they can help us to strengthen our hearts and lungs and lower our weight; and most importantly for me, they can help us to clear our minds and work our ways mentally through some of the stress and problems that we're experiencing.  The ability to walk is a tremendous gift to us; it's a shame that most of us squander that gift when we use it only to get us to work or from the house to the car and the parking lot to the store.

Questions to consider:

When was the last time you went for a walk just for the sake of walking and getting to know the world that surrounds you?

Why do so many people refuse to walk to work or to the store, or even to go for walks when they have some time on their hands? 

What would it take for you to make a commitment to walk regularly for the sake of your health and your peace of mind? 

For further thought:

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

Soren Kierkegaard

More on walking.


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