Mind Walks: 100 Easy Ways to Relieve Stress, Stay Motivated, and Nourish Your Soul

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9780966787948: Mind Walks: 100 Easy Ways to Relieve Stress, Stay Motivated, and Nourish Your Soul
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A walk can be much more than great exercise -- if you know how to renew your body, mind, and spirit with a MindWalk. MindWalks combines easy, inspiring mental exercises and meditations, which help you make a simple walk more productive, relaxing and fun, with exquisitely written observations in the tradition of Thoreau's Walden.

More and more people are walking for exercise because it provides most of the benefit of running or aerobics without punishing stress on the body. MindWalks shows you how to double the benefit of your exercise by using the time to solve problems, reduce the impact of stress, manage your emotions, and enjoy the world around you more. With MindWalks, you make the most of your time by improving your mental state while you work on your physical well-being.

But MindWalks is more than just useful information. It opens your eyes to the everyday wonders that lie all around you if you know how to spot them. Done right, a MindWalk isn't just about exercise. It's also about inhaling the smell of crisp salt air at the beach. It's about spotting a jogger with a parakeet on her head. And it's about discovering one special thing each day that makes a walk worthwhile. In short, it's about enjoying yourself.

This collection of meditations and mental exercises use awareness, humor, and practical advice to turn a walk into exercise for both body and brain. MindWalks can be tucked into a pocket and taken on your walk. It makes a perfect gift for someone who already enjoys a walk -- or for someone who's thinking about starting. Because MindWalks makes walking more fun, it can motivate you to walk more often.

MindWalks will appeal to the growing number of baby boomers who want easier, more enjoyable ways to exercise while combating the stress of everyday life.

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About the Author:

Mary Frakes began taking daily walks in 1997 when she was on the corporate fast track and trying to decide whether to accept a promotion that required moving to a new city. More than three million Americans know her as the founding editor of the award-winning Stages Magazine, which helped demystify personal finance and investing for novice investors. Most recently, she collaborated with noted Internet strategist and speaker Chuck Martin on his new book, Net Future, interviewing dozens of executives and workers about how technology is affecting their businesses, careers, and lives. She now serves as Walks Chairman for WalkBoston, a pedestrian-advocacy group affiliated with the national organization PedNet.

Frakes also has edited two national consumer publications, and her writing also has appeared in such well-known publications as Life, Travel and Leisure, Elle Decor, CFO, Boston Magazine, Boston Business Magazine, Yankee, American Craft, Harvard Magazine, The Boston Globe, and Bostonia. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, she lives - and walks - in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

"There's Always Something" I began doing MindWalks to get in shape. Consistency in working out had never been my strong point, and in the mornings, I often looked for any excuse to avoid exercise. But after a month or so I realized that every time I managed to get out, I had at least one experience during my walk that made me glad I had put on my shoes.

Sometimes it was a gorgeous view I had never noticed. Sometimes it was two colors that intensified each other, the way a robin's-egg sky enriches the yellow of backlit sunflowers. Sometimes it was the year's first daffodil, or the scent of lilacs. I learned to anticipate that day's discovery of something I would not have seen otherwise; not once have I failed to find it. Anticipation motivated me.

MindWalks are about discovery. Even if your route never varies, becoming aware of your surroundings turns every venture outdoors into an exploration. Seasons rotate. The weather changes its mind; the sun rises at a slightly different time and alters how the light hits everything you see. The same old stuff? Only if you don't pay attention.

One of my favorite MindWalk moments came when I was resting on a bench, gazing across a river bordered by a jogging trail. I idly watched as a young girl came jogging down the path in front of me, her hair slicked into a ponytail. Not an unusual sight - except for the parakeet perched atop her head like a hood ornament.

This was clearly a routine; as they ran by me, he hopped down to cling to her ponytail as if it were a branch. On they jogged, the bird bob-bob-bobbing along with her every stride, an unforgettable mental snapshot.

Looking for something special on each walk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you resolve to find one experience each day that makes you glad you got outdoors, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

"The First Walk of Spring"

It comes first as a gentle breeze that drifts across your cheeks as lightly as a piece of pastel silk. The breeze whispers of flowers that still sleep in curled-tight balls, waiting to be coaxed out so they can put on petticoats of brazen color; of sun that will burst on you like a smile, warming and glazing dry skin in honey-colored light; of a green that hesitates, hinting of richer greens to come. Skies are so newly blue and brilliant that your eyes ache.

The first day of spring comes not by the calendar but with the first day when the weather relents and allows the earth to breathe again. You stretch; you can feel yourself climbing out of your winter skin. Limbs lose their huddled tension and begin to trust the world again. You want to get outside and move. Energy electrifies your spirit; spring has charged your batteries, stripped off the grime, and set you out gleaming in the sun.

You can't help hearing a lilting Strauss waltz as you walk. You stand straighter, aware of your body moving more freely as you dare to let slip that first layer of winter swaddlings and emerge from your gray winter cocoon. You peel another layer, then another as the day waxes and warms, your body increasingly greedy for bareness until that warmth begins to reverse itself and fades to a cool evening reminder that the best is not here, not yet. Like a day lily, spring comes and goes during the course of a few hours, waiting for a time when it is allowed full run of the earth, when daylight breaks its curfew like an exuberant teenager and stays up late.

Frozen soil softens, preparing to give birth. Its damp smell infuses the mornings as you walk past colors that are as crisp as the snap of a tart apple. White-washed houses stand like clean laundry against a deep blue ocean of sky. Red brick soaks up sun, radiating warmth like a terra cotta oven. Any chill that survives loses its power to abuse.

In the morning of the year, all things are possible. Tarnished plans are rubbed clean and set out anew. Crocuses bloom in your soul.

"Match Your Steps to Your Stress"

We experience two different types of stress - one mental, one physical - and different types of MindWalks work in different ways to help us cope with each one.

Mental tension is caused by negative thought patterns. We may get depressed or worry about imagined disasters. Then there's physical stress: the "fight or flight" response that floods our bodies with adrenaline. But evolution intended adrenaline to be a quick-response mechanism. When it becomes a permanent reaction to daily stress, we end up perpetually drained.

The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course. But try attacking each type with a walking pace that addresses its unique characteristics.

If your tension is largely mental, try a calm, relaxed pace to move your brain toward a peaceful alpha state, to open the floodgates to the soothing brain chemicals called endorphins. Walk more slowly than you might otherwise. Clear your mind by paying attention to your surroundings instead of dwelling on whatever is causing your tension. Focusing on externals instead of on your internal stressors will allow your brain to step away from the problem long enough to calm down. Deep breathing also helps. This slower pace sends a signal to the brain: "Hey, chill out! We're takin' a break here!"

When you're feeling physical stress - your muscles are tight, your palms are sweaty, your mouth is dry - walking briskly can help burn off adrenaline-induced energy. When you're really ticked off from a major confrontation - that's the time to get out and MOVE.

You also can combine the two in the same walk. Start out fast to burn off emotional overload, then slow down and feel a sense of calm settle into your bones.

Aaaahh.

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