Walking Meditation

This is one of my favorite ways to reduce stress and reconnect with my own inner compass.  It is an especially helpful tool for people who can’t do the traditional types of meditating that involve closing the eyes and trying to clear the mind.  In our modern day, fast paced world we are living in, slowing down the mind is a near impossibility for most people.  I recommend trying this method out a minimum of two days per week to help balance out the craziness of life.

Find a spot in nature where you can walk for 45-90 minutes (if your health allows).  The farther removed from traffic, buildings, and such, the better.  Walking on a beach, on hiking trails in the mountains, in a beautiful park, whatever is available to you where you live is the goal.  Ideally, if it is safe, you would walk completely alone.  Walking with a dog or companion is fine.  But if a friend accompanies you, it is important that you both be on the same page, and you agree that there will be no talking on the walk.  Set your phone to airplane mode.  Even if you vow not to look at your phone during the walk, when you feel or hear messages coming in, it will distract your mind to wondering who it is from and whether it was important.

As you begin your walk, you will likely be in distracted mode.  You will be partially aware of your surroundings, and your mind will be spinning with a million thoughts, to-do lists, problems, frustrations, etc.  For the first 10 minutes or so, just let that be.  Allow your mind to do its ping-ponging back and forth between all of the concerns in your life.  Think of your mind like a small child that is demanding your attention.  It needs to feel heard and acknowledged.  Also notice that these thoughts you are having aren’t new thoughts.  They are the same thoughts you’ve been rolling around in your mind for days, weeks, or even months.  When you really think about it, having these repetitive thoughts hasn’t resolved your stress.  It is just perpetuating it.

After about 10 minutes, tell your mind thank you for keeping track of all of those items for you.  Let it know that you are going to disconnect from that endless loop and focus on your surroundings.  At this point, you aren’t trying to stop your mind from thinking.  You are taking control and creating a new subject matter.  Begin to focus on your surroundings.  Notice the grasses, plants and trees.  Notice any wildlife in the area.  How many different colors are in your environment?  Are there any clouds in the sky, and what are their shapes?  Contemplate the mysteries of nature.  As you look at a large tree, you might wonder how many insects, birds and squirrels call that tree their home.  As you pass by a spider web woven in the grasses that has the morning dew drops clinging to its threads, you notice the beauty of that creation.  Watch a bird soaring overhead and imagine what it would feel like if you could fly like that.  Imagine that sense of freedom and what your perspective of the world would be from that vantage point.  You get the idea…use your imagination and keep your mind busy with a childlike wonderment of your surroundings.

The combination of the exercise, fresh air, and a sustained break from your normal mental loops create an opportunity for you to release some of the stress you’ve been carrying with you.  After practicing this walking meditation for a while, something magical began to happen for me.  Towards the last 5-10 minutes of my walk, when my thoughts were starting to return to my normal mental chatter, I would suddenly get a brilliant insight.  From out of the blue, I would see one of my problems from a whole new perspective.  I would come up with a solution and an action item to finally get that issue off of my list.  If you’ve ever had the experience where you’ve wrestled with a problem on your mind all day to no avail.  Then, after a good night’s sleep, your first thought upon waking in the morning is the perfect answer you were looking for.  This walking meditation has the same effect.  Our best insights don’t come from a place of tightness and spinning, they come following a time of release.

Try to include this healthy practice into your weekly routines.

Let’s Begin With the End in Mind

Welcome to Ryli Institute’s inaugural blog post!

I know there are many different reasons you are here and seeking information in the holistic world of wellness.  Whether it is to find answers to health questions for yourself, a friend or a loved one, you are likely not finding all of your solutions in the world of western medicine.

I have spent the better part of the last 3 decades in search of truths in order to manage my health in the best way possible.  My journey had an unusual source of inspiration.  My dad had his first heart attack at the age of 36, and died from his second heart attack at the age of 37.  Both of my husband’s parents died at young ages from cancer.  When our daughter was born, we were both concerned about what our families’ health histories would mean for our daughter’s future.  It was during these early years of her life that I began dedicating a large portion of my time and energy to study every aspect of holistic health I could devour.  It is my deepest passion to discover the truths about how to stay healthy in our modern day world and to share what I have learned with others.

The title to this blog post may strike you as a strange concept.  Here’s what I invite you to imagine:  What do you envision as the end to your story on this planet?  We will all have a conclusion to our life someday.  If you were writing the script of your life, how would it end?  Take a moment to imagine this scenario.  Would you slip away quietly and peacefully in your sleep?  Would you be surrounded by loved ones?  It’s not a topic we like to spend time thinking about much.  But I am challenging you to step out of your comfort zone for a moment and consider the possibilities.

Here is the interesting dichotomy – When we are bringing a new life into this world, there is much planning and preparation that ensues.  We take new parenting classes, read lots of books about pregnancies, child birth and care of a newborn.  We may hire a doula to support us on this journey.  We quiz other parents to gather their best points of wisdom on this topic.  We discuss with our partner what our key philosophies and moral beliefs are about raising children.  In short, we devote a tremendous amount of time and energy in planning for this momentous occasion.

On the flip side, because it is uncomfortable to think about, most people spend very little time and energy planning for the end of their life.  Most believe that it is something that is out of their control, and therefore it is not to be dwelled upon.  While it is true that there are some freak accidents that can occur regardless of your health, I would contend that the majority of deaths could be scripted another way.

I have sat by the bedsides of people who have lost their touch of reality with the world due to dementia or Alzheimer’s, and those who have been losing their long and painful battle with cancer.  I have witnessed their decline and the loss of independence and dignity that usually accompanies these passages.  I would like to write a different ending for myself.  I believe that is possible.

Just like we plan and prepare for our children’s births, I believe we can plan and prepare our mental and physical health to carry us through life in a positive and supportive way.  It takes education, lifestyle changes, and a rearranging of priorities.  You are worth it!  In the blog posts to come, we will delve deeper into the concepts of what you can do to write a better ending to your story than those you may have witnessed within your own circle of relationships.  It is the best gift you can give to yourself and to your loved ones.  I invite you to join me on this journey to mindful living!

Laura Gordon is a certified life and wellness coach a member of the Medical Medium Practitioner Support Service. She is not a physician and is not trained in any way to provide medical diagnosis, medical treatment, psychotherapy, or any other type of medical advice.