The third week of my walking to work (W2W) experiment has again proven to me the power of the body-mind connection. I’m both physically and emotionally stronger than before I took on this challenge. Having adapted to my new routine, I genuinely look forward to time alone with my thoughts. Eagerly anticipating how I might progress today in getting to know myself better, I’m excited to set out on my walk. This is exactly as Tony Robbins predicts would result from embracing an Hour of Power (HoP) ritual (you can hear him talk about this here). I’ve uncovered the ability to choose how I want to feel, and subsequently make empowering decisions about how I want to live,
So how exactly has the W2W challenge helped me determine how I want to feel about myself and life?
Well, firstly, I’ve noticed that by walking in the mornings, I feel far less back pain and stiffness. This was the outcome I’d hoped changing my routine would bring. It’s also encouraged me to move more during the day. For example, despite my return journey being largely uphill, I’m electing to walk home more often because it makes me feel good in my skin. This week has confirmed to me that acting in my body’s best interests means exercising as often as possible.
Alongside these physical gains, I’m also benefiting from feeling happier by consciously choosing to focus on what’s good in the world. During my walks, I’ve learnt to craft a positive state of mind through connecting to nature via my physical senses (of sight, sound, touch, scent and taste). Spending more time outdoors, I’m noticing subtle seasonal changes. Leaving my house, sharp late-Winter winds lick my skin and light blue skies stretch out in front of me. Bird song fills the air, and flashes of purple and yellow show themselves through the green grass verges. Subtly yet consistently evolving, I’m reminded that change is the only constant for all elements of nature – including me. Witnessing Spring unfold before my eyes reassures me that its justified to have a sense hopefulness about life.
Prior to this experiment I sought to create a positive mindset for the day by journalling over breakfast at my desk. Writing out my gratitudes and intentions is useful to me in many ways. However, I’ve noticed that I have a much deeper, more immediate impact on my mindset through my W2W rituals. I think this is because it incorporates more of my senses than writing alone. Smiling and talking myself through my HoP ritual whilst walking, I feel genuinely happy and excited about life! Deciding to walk regularly, I’m selecting the tool which works best to create a positive mental state.
I’ve also found that through practising my HoP rituals, I’ve learnt new techniques to create the kind of emotional state in which I want to live. In particular, using incantations has helped me to cultivate an empowering mindset. Incantations are essentially verbal statements of positive intent you make to yourself out loud. Unlike affirmations or mantras, Robbins says that with incantations, “… not only do you speak it, but you embody it with all the intensity you can, and you do it with enough repetitions that it sticks in your head.” I find my confidence grows with each iteration and as I reach the end of my walk, I own the enthusiasm, excitement and passion that I want for myself.
An unexpectedly welcome outcome of my W2W challenge, learning to craft a positive mindset has also taught me to recognise how I don’t want to feel and has given me the skills to take action to change my emotional state. A prime example of this in the past week was when I noticed myself feeling a little uneasy – a touch of guilt – from breaking my new routine to accept a lift to work. Feeling guilt for not exercising is a warning sign from my twenties; caught in an eating disordered loop, I was regularly plagued with thoughts of what I should do, eat or be. Perhaps it’s just the ghost of an old mental habit, but I’m reminded to take such emotional messages seriously and keep an eye on myself. Accepting the occasional ride to work, forcing myself to break routine, I’m acting to protect my mental health by incorporating a crucial element of flexibility into my routine.
The W2W experiment has taught me so much more than I’d expected; it’s been an eye-opening experience. For the next week, I’m on leave from work so have put the final week of the challenge on hold. Technically, I’m on holiday, but I’m actually working with my partner on renovating our former home for sale. A very different kind of physical and mental challenge, I’m actually really looking forward to it! Who knows what I might learn?! Having taken a break this week, I anticipate I’ll miss my routine and I’ll be excited to return to the W2W challenge in the first week of March.
My cat, Dave, and I are both hoping the snow lifts by then!