Usually when mental health people recommend “walking,” they are encouraging it as a way to feel less depressed, cut down on stress, or get into better shape. There is no doubt that walking helps accomplish all of these things.
We speak less often though of other, deeply important benefits to going for a walk, or otherwise spending time outside, particularly in a place you love and that resonates with your heart and soul.
Just taking a few minutes to look up some of the different things writers have ascribed to the outdoors and to nature, here are just a few examples of words they use:
It is common for people to think of places where they loved to spend time as children. A lot of us go somewhere outdoors in our thinking when asked this question. There is a path or a garden, a woods road or a lake, a spring overhung by lilacs or a field of Christmas trees.
Living more and more within the protection and order of towns, and the walls that make them up, it takes effort to find a place to wander. At the same time the wildness we find in un-manicured, unspoiled places is an opportunity to explore what is around us, let go of day to day concerns and leave feeling renewed, refreshed, and reconnected. We begin to sense the flow and pace of weather variation and the harmony of the seasons. Our sense of what we can and can’t control is altered as is our understanding of our place in the larger world.
There are pleasures in solitary walks, and in walks with other people. There is nothing to compare, though, with the immeasurable two-way gift of sharing the stories, history, magic, or grounding you find in a place with a beloved child. These are gifts that carry across miles and generations and will sustain both of you throughout your lives.