Many of us know stories of great artists, philosophers, innovators, and other prolific contributors who’ve made walking part of a daily routine. In his highly readable book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, author Mason Currey details the quotidian structures adhered to by a variety of creative thinkers at the frontiers of their chosen fields.
Currey’s list of daily walkers includes the following: filmmakers Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen; musicians Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Eric Satie, and George Gershwin; pioneering psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (at least when the latter took “time out,” and in, to write, paint, and meditate at his country home); philosophers Soren Kierkegaard and Immanuel Kant; scientific luminary Albert Einstein (who made a habit of walking to and from his job at Princeton); visual artist Georgia O’Keeffe (who walked the New Mexico desert with a stick to fend off rattlesnakes); and of course, an array of writers, including Samuel Johnson, Henry James, and Charles Dickens – to name a mere few.
The connection between daily walking and writing is strong – so strong, in fact, that some consider the two activities as one.
For many years I’ve recalled Brenda Ueland’s advice in her classic book, If You Want to Write: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.” On that note, one of the books on my summer reading list is Merlin Coverley’s The Art of Wandering: The Writer as Walker.
So why? Why are daily walks so essential in the lives of consciously creative people?
Put simply, walking helps us think. And of course, some of the other benefits are obvious. It’s great for our physical health. Walking gets us outside and increases our level of vitamin D. It also helps us simply take a break and “moodle” (to use Ueland’s word), relax, shift gears, and raise our vibe. It’s one of the daily practices we can cultivate to engage the prefrontal cortex and sustain a mindset of calm awareness that gives us creative choices.
Walking out of doors, particularly in the early morning and at dusk, also allows us the experience of listening to birdsong, which studies have shown alters mood for the better.
I suggest you experiment. If you don’t have a practice of walking, you can start one and see how it affects your creativity. Moreover, in the interest of serving your creativity and your Dream, you can expand your routine of daily walking to incorporate Visioning.
Here are three kinds of Vision Walk:
Vision Walk #1: To Call in Information (Solutions) for a Creative Project
At the outset of Vision Walk #1, set an intention for the information you wish to receive. I mapped out much of a novel this way, taking myself for Vision Walks long before I formalized my training in Dream Building and Transformational Coaching. Intuitively I knew my Vision Walks were an essential part of my creative process.
Setting clear intentions and asking generative questions are keys to yielding breakthrough ideas:
- What scene would you LOVE to see play out in your mind?
- What process would you LOVE to discover?
- What solution would you LOVE to find?
- What product, event, or business would you LOVE to create?
Affirm that the details you seek are on their way to you… and walk.
Call in the answers. Trust they’ll come to you in the perfect time, and carry a journal and pen to capture thoughts when they arrive.
Sometimes creative insights and solutions show up during the walk itself; sometimes afterward. Here is an opportunity to practice being unattached to outcomes and enjoy the journey…
In upcoming blog posts, I’ll explore Vision Walks #2 and #3 in detail: essential tools in your Dream Building tool kit. If you desire to find out more NOW, to take a deeper dive into making your creative habits work for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I can help you make your Dream a Reality, and I am just a click away.
In the meantime, happy trails…