Do you know how much stuff you carry around with you unnecessarily?
By stuff, I mean not just physical but also the mental clutter we have most of the time.
It is not always easy to get rid of the mental chatter, but you can certainly let go of the physical stuff quite easily.
Earlier on today, after a spell of writing, I fancied some fresh air and so off I went for a brisk walk. It had been snowing and rather than sensibly wrapping up, I decided to go minimalist and wore just a light coat over a t-shirt.
This time last year I was training to walk the London marathon so I am quite used to walking briskly and dressing lightly. It’s amazing how quickly one warms up by walking briskly, especially when it’s so cold!
What was different today was I went as light as possible and de-cluttered my pockets and got rid of all distractions.
It was a wonderful walk in the park and I came home refreshed and reinvigorated. Apart from the crisp air, what really helped me today was my preparation beforehand.
I went minimalist with nothing unnecessary on me. This also made me realise just how we go through life with so much stuff, both physical and mental.
So what should you take and not take next time you go for your own walk?
Here’s what worked for me:-
1. House keys – leave them with a neighbour if you can, if no one else will be home when you return.
2. Jewellery – don’t wear any. Not even a ring – its only for a short time.
3. Watch – leave this behind too. It’s wonderfully liberating not having to worry about the time.
4. Wallet – leave all your money and wallet/ purse behind. Plan not to buy anything along the way. Not having the money will help you resist any temptations.
5. Mobile phone – definitely leave this behind. I did so today – and guess what, the world didn’t end!
6. Camera – for once, do without any gadgets. This was quite a challenge since I am always tempted to carry a camera with me every time I go to my local park.
7. MP3 player – listen to the birds in the park, if you are lucky and the music of your soul rather than any tinkering from a gadget.
8. Clothes – wear light clothes, just enough to keep you warm and dry.
9. Shoes – wear comfortable walking or running shoes, not work shoes or high heels.
When you go on a minimalist walk, do tell someone beforehand where you are going, if it’s dark. If you must, then carry a water bottle if you plan to go far.
What about letting go of the mental clutter?
There are a number of things you can do:-
1. Breathe deeply – of course being in nature in a park will help. But if you are on a road with heavy passing traffic, then just be more cautious and find an alternate route as soon as you can.
2. Walk erect and with your head held high – this will do wonders for your posture and you will naturally feel better and happier.
3. You can try walking meditation simply by focussing on each step as you move forward. Focusing on your breath and your step will really clear out any repetitive swirling thoughts.
4. Do look around and be present to what’s around you. If you meet strangers, do look them in the eye and acknowledge as appropriate – it’s amazing what a simple stare and nod can do to make you feel more alive and connected with others.
5. Smile – this is possibly the most important thing you can do on your walk to clear out your mental clutter. Of course, your smile must be genuine and be careful how long you keep the smile glued on your face when smiling at strangers!
I got back from my walk and I wrote this post in less than 30 minutes – clearly my walk helped to get me refreshed.
So the key learning for me today is to go on more empowering walks and continue to declutter my life.
And yet again, it’s clear that we can all do much more to simplify our life and start using and keeping only what we really, really need.
So when will you go on your own empowering walk – and what mental and physical clutter will you clear out along the way?
Arvind, this is a great idea. So actionable. I will try it as soon as the rain lets up.
LPC, actions ideas are always good, even if it’s raining:-)
A good reminder, mental clutter is tough one. I am getting better though. Seems like you had a nice walk! Walk in a park or just fresh air does wonder to most of us.
Zengirl, I find that the more walks in nature, I take the less the mental clutter gets. So maybe the answer is to just live in the jungle for a while.
I go for walks in a park some early mornings and that must be one of the best ways of starting your day.
Hi Arvind, Loved this article,i agree walking is an amazing way to declutter your life and let it go, especially if you are walking no where in particular. know its cliche but the destination is not important but the journey is, especially if you don’t reach the destination.
love and a sunny hug from bondi beach. fleur xxx
Fleur, why are you even on the internet on Bondi Beach?
Yes, the journey is most important than the destination – but right now I would rather be on Bondi beach than rainy London!
A big hug back. And cliches are most welcome here:-)
Arvind, What a great post. I’m also a walking enthusiast, but I always bring binoculars since I love to check out birds along the way. Last week I was back in Seattle for a few days and took a walk on a nature trail. It was warm and spring-like with forsythia and cherry trees in bud. And then I saw five great blue herons which had returned to their nests from last year. Walking is wonderful for the mind and the body.
Madeleine, you certainly travel around a bit.
If I was in Seattle on a nature trail, I would not only have my binoculars but also my trusted camera.
I hope you took some photos of the five herons:-)
Talking of herons, here is one of my first blog posts about herons:-
“You are my heron!” – https://www.arvinddevalia.com/blog/2007/01/24/you-are-my-heron/
Arvind, Great picture on your heron post. I couldn’t take pictures because this was a minimalist-type trip to Seattle to finish up dental implant surgery. I took only clothes and a few necessities, no camera. Also the heron nests were at some distance and quite high up in the trees. Still a wonderful and relaxing experience.
Madeleine, I will be visiting my local park, Regents Park, this weekend and I shall take some pictures of the Heron nests. Quite spectacular actually – and the baby herons always so cute.
The heron “nests” in this park are actually man made baskets – I once fibbed to some tourists that they were made by the herons and they believed me!
Walking is wonderful; I walk and just try to be aware and let go of mental clutter, and amazingly all the problems of world vanish!
Kaushik, it’s simple isn’t it!
Quite often the simplest things we can do to hepl ourselves are the most powerful.
Arvind, thanks for this. Just what I needed to hear. Have been on my computer since 6am without a break. As I write, the sun has just burst through the clouds so I am going to take your advice and go for a minimalist walk over the Downs!
The timing of your blog emails is uncanny. They always seem to come at just the right time with a message I need to hear. Thank you, thank you for being such a support for us all – your wisdom and caring nature is very much appreciated.
PS I always feel so alive and free when I swim which I try to do every day and that probably accounts for the fact in the pool it is just me, my bathing suit and water – nothing else; well, actually I do wear goggles!!
Thanks Jeannie for all your kind words.
Do come and visit often – its reassuring to know that my messages are just what you need t oehar and they seem to come at the right time:-)
I love walking too, Arvind. You immediately feel freedom from clutter, troubling thoughts or even walls of your own house. I go for a run more often than I go for a walk (just to combine pleasure with exercise :-)) but all tips that you have mentioned are true for jogging too.
The only thing I do not leave behind is my jewelry 🙂 I always wear my wedding ring and a few other pieces that I never take off. I guess this is just a female thing 🙂
Each of my runs or walks are like defragmenting a hard drive. They just everything in the right place where I can find it. My mind gets organized and free of clutter.
Great post Arvind, thank you for it!
Anastasiya, ok you are allowed to keep your wedding ring on. I agree – it’s just a female thing:-)
The point was that one lets go of all excess baggage and go a walk completely uncluttered. It really is liberating and I like your analogy of defragemeting a hard drive.
I can relate to leaving everything behind however if I do go a distance from home I like to carry at least some form of ID. I grew up on a farm and worked daily outdoors no matter the weather. I can relate to your experiences and refreshing it is. I can also see how you clear your mind and thinks flow for blogging.
Tess, yes good idea to carry some form of ID – best to take such precautions nowadays. As long as you only take one simple form of ID:-)
I went to the gym earlier on today and when I came out, it was pouring down “cats and dogs”. Reminded me of being in India during the monsoon season once – totally refreshing!
This is something I used to make a regular practice of. It really is quite a release to leave things at home as it cultivates a mindset of letting go.
I once heard Eckhart Tolle tell Oprah Winfrey to take nothing on her walk or run that would distract her from being completely in the moment. He told her not to listen to her Ipod but instead to listen to the sound of her feet hitting the pavement, her breathing, and the sounds around her. I find that enjoyable to do when I walk, but when I run, it’s sure nice to have the distraction of singing along with the music!
Barrie, thanks for sharing the Eckhart Tolle story! I wonder if Oprah took him up on it.
Recently, I realised that whilst walking, I tend to look down towards the ground more than anywhere else. So lately I have been consciously looking around much more and taking in the greenery and even people. Already I find I am much more alert, present and best of all connected with the world around me.
Try going without your music for a couple of walks and see how you feel. You can still sing but without your ipod:-)
That’s an interesting observation about the difference in how you felt based on looking down or around you.
One of the things we learn in undertaking a walking meditation is that if you look down your experience becomes darker, more emotional and inward focused. If you raise your gaze you might notice that your experience becomes lighter and you are more aware of the outside world.
Tony, thanks for confirming that raising my gaze rather than looking down at the ground does have some real and solid reasons for doing so:-)
Arvind – spot on. I love walking meditation. It is such a lovely way to connect to the world around us and become fascinated by nature. Sometimes I like to walk along a path with my eyes closed for as long as possible. It helps to learn how to trust ourselves and clear our mind of fear thoughts. if there is a path in the park with grass on each side you get feedback if you stray from the right direction. Give it a try!
Thanks Phil, I shall certainly be giving that a try, walking in a park with my eyes shut.
The park I go to often, Regents Park, has lots of greenery and paths with grass on both sides, so this Sunday it should be fun. If nothing it will intrigue and perhaps amuse the other walkers:-)
Great tips, Im leaving for a walk right now and taking these points with me – especially the walking meditation. I want to let go of something in my head and with that intention I shall walk.
Keep up the good work on your blog.
Hello Amanda, welcomg to my blog.
Hope you managed to let go of that thing from your head – it’s amazing what a simple, peaceful walk can do you for your well-being.
Good luck with everything.
I could not help but laugh after reading your article – had I read it before going to the airport this afternoon, I might have reached my destination now and not be stuck in front of my husband’s pc. It must feel good to go handsfree and light but I just cannot do it. Besides here if you get stopped by a cop, you would have to pay a penalty for not carrying your id card on you (something u guys dont yet have in the UK) and another penalty for not having a minimum amount of money. Different countries different rules!
But to conclude I do agree, getting out and stretching is really good for you – in fact I’m going to do just that…
Enjoy your walk Anne! A classic example of why one should go lightly – both in terms of luggage and state of mind:-)
We don’t have ID cards here in the UK and thankfully government plans to introduce them have been dropped – for now anyway.
Arvind, I must say that you are getting a lot of mileage from this post. (Pun definitely intended.) Actually, I usually carry a hand-written note card that says I have type 2 diabetes and am prone to low blood sugar. Just a precaution. Sometimes I carry a cell phone for the same reason, but the only time I’ve used it was to let someone else make a call. One was a very anxious young boy on a bicycle who wasn’t sure how to get where he was going and how long it would take. These days when I walk, I focus on learning about the birds of southern Maryland.
Thanks Madeleine – better to have some puns rather than runs:-)
Wonderful that you are now finally able to enjoy your new home in Maryland. With our almost complete reliance nowadays on mobile phones, I sometimes wonder how we lived without them.
The younger generation today who have been brought up with mobile phones all their lives have no concept of being out of touch or uncontactable – it seems to be the norm to have a mobile phone handset glued to their ears. Now when I go for walks with my nephew, we usually leave our mobiles behinds. Anything for some peace and quiet for that time.
Thanks for sharing all the guidelines, this really helped! With the current busy life right now that we live in sometimes people do forget how to reflect and to put the excess baggage away. Having a relaxing place and a relaxing setting really helped me on reflecting and on to letting go of the extra baggage that I had. Thank you again and I am hoping that you would post again related things on this. More power to you.
This is so funny because the other day I had went for a walk with my son. Upon leaving, I had to grab my phone, keys, etc. This was basically what you wrote on your list. I just thought it was funny that I found this post by searching for “too much clutter while walking” LOL.
Just wanted to thank you for those tips because it truly has helped me and what I try to do now is separate my outdoor time from my inside the house time. This means that I’m only bringing keys and nothing else, unless I’m going for ice cream, then I need the money!
Hannah, welcome to my blog – and I am glad you found my blog via seemingly such an obscure search phrase! LOL!
May you enjoy many more clutter free walks with ice-cream:-)