My walk this week is from an event in West Wales with WWAMH (West Wales Action for Mental Health). I had been asked to run a couple of StillWalks taster sessions for their “Let’s Celebrate Gardening” event at Clynfyw Care Farm and so I focused on sound walks – or perhaps I should say silent walking.
The benefits of walking in a group are primarily social – you get to chat with friends or meet new people in an active way and often in a pleasant natural environment. My own preference is for solitary walking but that is not because I am antisocial in any way. It is because I like to listen to the environmental sounds around me, look at my surroundings and through focusing my awareness on these things my walk becomes more meditative.
I was unsure about how the participants in these sessions would react to the silent walking approach. Even though my experience in the past was good, you can never be sure about the dynamics of a new mix of people. However, there was nothing to be concerned about and everyone enjoyed it very much.
We spent 10 minutes watching a StillWalks video before our walk which helped people to understand the approach to walking in this way and also to focus our minds and prepare our senses for the walk – this went down well. I had arranged a few points at which to pause on the walk but where these pause points would normally be used (on a project walk) for being quiet, listening and looking around us, this walk was silent and the pause points were used for quiet reflection and discussion of what we had been experiencing.
What a great way to encourage quietness and reflection, Alastair. Sounds perfect for a mental health exercise. I, too, prefer the quiet walks, so I can hear the bird calls, the rustle of lizards or the wingbeats of birds, the wind, and activity in my surroundings. I think it’s great you had the courage to encourage this, and I’m glad it went well.
I was certainly a bit nervous about how it would be received by people. They clearly enjoyed it though, so I am encouraged to do it again in the future