Walking with Intention & It’s Benefits

If you’re ever feeling lost, anxious, or just in need of a little bit of wonder, step outside your front door on a weekend day and just start walking. Taking a different path unexpectedly can help you discover new parts of your neighborhood while also leading you to new paths internally.

Day 4 of the 30-Day Intentional Living Challenge: Go For a Walk In Nature

photograph of woman smiling with text that reads: 60 Mindful Minutes Podcast

As part of day 4 of the 30-Day Intentional Living Challenge, I encourage you to take a walk outside for as little as 10 or 20 minutes but try to take a walk in a new direction than your typical route. After listening to the interview with modern Flaneur Erika Owens on the podcast, 60 Mindful Minutes, where she shared about the art of Flaneuring as she also explores in her book The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life.

There is still time to join the Intentional Living Challenge. It’s free and includes daily invitations to add a little extra intention to your everyday. Join here.

What is Flaneuring Is It Walking With Intention?

Flanuering refers to the action of strolling aimlessly. Traditionally flaneurs were males of a certain part of European society and their purpose was to simply observe their surroundings. As time went on, more people of all walks of life began taking up the art of flaneuring and enjoying its benefits. Many have found that taking up falneuring boosts creativity and reduces stress.

5 Tips for Adding More Intention to Your Next Walk

  1. Put away the maps and the apps. Part of the beauty of flaneuring is discovering new paths in familiar areas, or foregoing the fastsest route to a destination and stepping into wandering and sereditpity and spontanity. You might discover a beaitul little garden you’ve never seen before or maybe even stumble onto a cafe or park that is new to you.
  2. Listen to nature. Instead of wearing headphones or eabuds and listening to your most recent audio book or podcast, take the opportunity to take in all of the sensory sounds as you walk. You may be surprised by the inspiration that comes to you just by listening to the rhythm and sounds of your own neighborhood.
  3. Be the first one to wave. As mentioned in Gina Hamadey’s new book, I Want to Thank You, she shares the scientific benefit of saying hello to strangers and communing with the people along your path that you may or may not know. These “week ties,” a term from a 1973 study by Mark Granovetter can help feel okay about things.

“Strong ties know all of same people, so they aren’t as helpful as weak ties, who expose you to a wider range of information…I think that’s one of the big benefits. We aren’t surprised that often. You’re more likely to be surprised by someone you don’t know than someone you do know. “

Gillian Sandstrom from Gina Hamadey’s book, I Want to Thank you

4. Observe All Directions. As a child would, take in your entire surroundings. Look up and notice the sky. Look low and seek out little glimpses of birds under bushes. Pause and look into the leaves and limbs of trees to see the patterns of the shadows or spot a squirrel taking an afternoon nap. It is delightful to take in your surroundings and notice your significant part in it all.

5. Try a new perspective. If you’re having a bad day or you just received some sad news, on your walk seek out things that bring a smile to your face. Look for cracks in the ground and count how many you see. Look for exciting lawn adornments and wonder about the person who purchased those items and how they must bring that neighbor joy. Notice the smells or the silly sounds you hear on your walk. I promise, at the end of your walk, you will feel lighter and like you can face what is handed to you next.

sunflower growing outside

What To Do If You’re Unable to Walk With Ease

If you’re unable to take a stroll in your neighborhood or in a new city, take a gentle stroll in your yard or pick a new spot to sit on your porch or front yard. Apply the same concepts as above and focus more closely on your familiar surroundings. Notice the slant of the sun or the texture on the stones or walls nearby.

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