Distraction free, taking a silent walk
Posted on 17th January 2024 at 07:16
We’ve talked before about how distracted people seem to be these days. Whether by their phone – with more apps appearing every day – anti social media (!) or the preoccupation with being “busy, busy, busy.”
Not surprisingly – well, to us at least – concentration levels have plummeted in recent years as people find it increasingly difficult to maintain a single focus. Let alone spend time on their own without any external distractions.
If you don’t think this applies to you, just try sitting on your own in room without any form of distraction / entertainment and see how long you last before, metaphorically, starting to climb the walls. It’s been estimated that, for many people, it’s as little as five minutes. And, despite rumours to the contrary, this applies to people of all ages…
So, we were very interested to come across an article extolling the beauty of the silent walk, thinking it was a new – or different – way of encouraging people to have some time outside in nature. Taking the opportunity to clear their busy heads. Reconnecting to the natural world and rhythms of life. Perhaps, even, as an easy introduction to meditation.
To our disappointment, this wasn’t what it was about at all.
Rather, a “silent walk” was just that. Walking without talking to someone on their phone or listening to something on headphones. Not being distracted by calls, music or podcasts.
No mention was made of using the opportunity to take some time out from their day. Re connecting to the world around them. Clearing their heads. It was simply about forsaking, for a few minutes, the modern addiction to endless entertainment and distractions which seem to rule so many people’s lives these days.
Put another way, as those of more mature years may say (!), it was simply going for a walk!!!
So, you may wonder why we’re so surprised by this.
Well, it’s yet another reminder of just how distracted we’ve all become – and that’s if we’re not too distracted to notice (!). How much we’ve lost touch with ourselves and our chronic need to be entertained in some way.
And, if you think this doesn’t apply to you, think again.
All the different things you listen to as you go about our day, both at home and at work. Music, podcasts and audiobooks. Whether as a distraction or in the mistaken belief that, somehow, multi tasking helps you get more done, more easily. It may sound overly simple, but giving anything less than 100% of your attention and focus doesn’t produce the best – or quickest – results. Full stop. End of story.
At the same time, it overlooks the importance of “down time” as we go about our day. Both in terms of giving our heads a rest, but also in that being exactly the time when all those bright ideas and solutions magically seem to appear.
While writing this post, it’s become clear to us just how dependant we’ve become on all things technological in the last few years, let alone before that. For us, born well before mobile phones were invented – let alone common place (!) – it’s far easier to see how much our lives have changed in such a short time. But, for Millennials – those born in the last 20 years or so – it’s far from obvious. Entangled with all things technological from the start without ever realising. It’s just the way things are. Seen in that light, going for a walk without a phone or headphones is a radical, and probably, scary idea.
At the same time, it got us thinking about how different life – and our perceptions of it – was, say, a hundred years ago. Less distracted, with fewer demands on our attention. Much less information to process, fewer opinions demanded and then only on things that actually affected us. Quieter minds, more grounded in the “here and now”, bringing a richer experience of life and the world around us.
However, as always, nothing is set in stone. It’s up to each of us to decide how to live our lives and what works for us – as well as what definitely doesn’t! Once again, just being aware of the “technological creep” – as we heard it called recently – puts us in a very different place. Gives us the opportunity to decide whether this approach is one we wish to pursue or whether some changes are needed. And, if that starts with a silent walk then, great. You never know where it may take you!
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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