A Wisdom Walk is the best new practice you’ve never tried! It’s not a trend, yet, but I wouldn’t be mad if it made its way around the block. Unlike Sage Bennet’s, Phd religious text, Wisdom Walk, the title of this blog post is not referring to “nine practices for creating peace and balance”; although, the practices that I will describe certainly carry the potential to guide your life in the direction of peace and balance. Allow me to begin by sharing a story.
I ran track for a semester in high school. Ironic as that was for a kid who could barely get through the weekly mile run in P.E., I somehow found athletic success in sprinting and shot put. And although I played basketball in middle school, my focus was really in the performing arts. I loved to move, but lacked high level endurance!
Now, imagine when I decided in my late 20s that I was going to take up running! Oh, boy, here we go. I had a million reasons why I couldn’t do it. First and foremost, I was born with a lung disease--yes, it had since resolved but had left me with weakened lungs. Secondly, I was running with my partner, who was waaaaayyyy more conditioned than me at the time. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have had my share of prideful moments. Being constantly left in the dust by my partner in a run session oftentimes left me feeling intimidated and embarrassed. I simply didn’t enjoy running. I found it boring and difficult to focus on. Every fiber in my being seemed to be telling me “Do something else! You’re wasting your time.”
Those were my feelings six years ago. Since then, a lot has changed. I’ve gained about 30 lbs of muscle through weight lifting, moved to New England, started a business, became a pescatiaran, got a certification in personal training and sports nutrition, traveled the world...Of all of the changes in my life over the past six years, the most important change in my life has been my mindset.
Today, I run almost every day for at least three miles. And while I still loathe the beginning of my runs, I have come to understand that I always feel great at the run’s end. It gives me the joy of anticipation. Small tiny habits are the stuff of gargantuan new practices. I didn’t start out my 21 mile-a-week routine at full capacity. I started out with 3 blocks a day to a nearby pond. Also, there was no way that I was running when I started out, so I walked. Gradually I was able to increase my distance and speed over the years.
Boredom is the opposite of happiness and I really wanted to be happy. In general, humans don’t flock to activities which they know are sure to deliver a promise of boredom. When you run, we look for RESULTS. We want to feel good, look good. For me, running was only delivering half of my non-negotiables. So, how am I now able to muster the strength to power through my running workouts? How am I able to (dare I say) enjoy my workouts. I’ll let you in on a little secret…and it’s all about the way I look at physical activity.
As human beings have a few common behavioral traits. I am drawn to three truths regarding these traits: 1) We were designed to be ambulatory; 2) We are social creatures; 3) We thrive on knowledge and spiritual growth. I’ve always known that meant to walk and run as part of my human nature. I realized quickly that I didn’t need to be part of a fun run social event in order to put my foot to the floor; but it did help to be in an environment where people were around. The only thing that was not happening was any kind of intellectual stimulation or spiritual experience. People who loved running speak of the “runner’s high” where they apparently reach nirvana during their runs. I wanted that, but it was not accessible at the time, to me. For me to reach that level of satisfaction, I had to create a method that would move my mind away from the perceived boredom of walking long distances or running to enjoyment of the experience. Eventually, I found a way.
Over the past few years I’ve begun a running practice with those who I felt would inspire, educate, or elevate me. Instead of listening to hard hitting music (which I love for my weight training sessions, by the way!), I listen to speeches, lectures, podcasts, and audio books. I’ve found that movement elevates my cognitive functions. I’m able to digest information in a way that doesn’t quite happen when I’m stagnant. Whether I’m engaged with a moving meditation, a powerful lecture, or a goal cast motivational video, my mind is expanded. Through this simple, wisdom inducing discipline of listening to the right playlist for mindexpansion, I’ve been able to support my journey of life mastery by creating a routine of continuously feeding and connecting my mind, body, and soul. When I first began what I have coined as Wisdom Walks, I chose to listen to audiobooks about financial literacy and success. Seeing it as a time to strengthen my mind and explore the minds of others, the added bonus was that I’d burn 300-500 calories in the process. Once it clicked, I found it truly astounding that something so powerful can be accomplished through something as simple as a Wisdom Walk.
Here are some tips on how you can begin a Wisdom Walk or Run practice of your own:
FOR THE MIND:
TIP #1: Decide what topics are interesting to you, which you’d like to develop in your personal life.
For me, I was intent on expanding my knowledge on building wealth and success. As a female, black, business owner, I hit all of the statistical qualifications for knowing diddly squat about building economic wealth. My irresponsible twenties proved my theory right, entering my thirties broke as a joke! I was literally tired of always scrambling for money and knew that there had to be a better way.
Based on my deficits, I decided to seek out books and coaches who knew better than I did. Even if they weren’t my personal friends, I hear their voices and their words more than those of my closest friends and family members.
Through their minds, I learned how to reach life mastery and excellency. Now, I am blessed to have the opportunity to award that same experience to others.
TIP #2: Choose the topic that’s right for the occasion.
You have to vary up the playlist! You can’t listen to the same thing all of the time. Some days I find myself listening to the passionate Eric Thomas or Les Brown, while on other days I’m in conversation with the soothing Lisa Nichols. Yet on other days, I’m engulfed in a TED Talk about behavior change science. What I listen to will always reflect my mood. And if I end up choosing a playlist that I thought would suit me, but that really doesn’t serve my purpose, I allowed myself the opportunity to pause and switch it up.
FOR THE BODY:
TIP #3: Decide whether you want to start off with running or walking.
I started off with walking because years ago I didn’t have the endurance to run longer than a quarter mile without stopping to walk. Choose whichever suits you better and commit to it. Remember that success is the result of consistency and persistence over time.
TIP #4: Choose a distance target instead of a time target.
Whether I walk or run, the distance will always be a minimum of three miles. Why the number three? On an extremely personal level, three has always been my favorite number. I was born the sole survivor of a triplet bunch. Although I had siblings, my household growing up, was one of three family members. Three was a holy number, I was taught in church--the holy trinity. And 3.2 miles is the number of miles it takes to complete a 5K. So, I commit to this number as a symbol of the perfection of God through me and that I am wholly capable of success in any task that I undertake.
FOR THE SOUL:
TIP #5: Allow yourself to fully connect your mind, body and soul through meditation as you work through the mechanics of a Wisdom Walk or Run.
Get lost in this connection and wonderful things might happen.
Some of my clients have told me that they wish they had my enthusiasm for running. My thought: “if only they knew.” If only they knew that I had a system that has taken me nearly a decade to perfect. If only they knew that I have connected the success of my walk or run with the success of my life. If only they knew that the way that you do one thing is the way that you do everything. I have prioritized movement in my life because it is integral to my success, learning, and empowerment. I implore you to use these tips to engage with walking and running in a more elevated way. Turn your normal walk into a wisdom walk; and your normal run into a wisdom run. Improve yourself in every way that you can through every modality. Bear witness to the impact that such a simple practice can have in disrupting old mindsets, and creating new pathways.
About Author: Brandi Nik Kilbourne is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. She is the founder of CNG Fit LLC which is the parent company of CNG Fit Lab Fitness & Nutrition and FitNu Life coaching services.