It's mid-January: the days are short, and the nights are long. The inauguration is coming up, and all those beautiful holiday lights are down.
Some nights, as I return home to see another neighbor has taken their lights down, I wish we could leave our lights up all year -- or at least all winter. Perhaps they should come with a 'Holiday' mode and a 'Rest of the Year' mode.
But as of now, they don't. Acceptance is a key to happiness, and I accept that, like it or not, my festive nighttime companions are coming down.
But I refuse to accept that I should now have any less joy, any less motivation to walk around my neighborhood at night in wonder and awe.
Which is why, this week, I did my first official Wind Chime Walk of 2017.
It sounds weird... but walking around in the dark, listening for wind chimes, is actualy super fun. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, there are way more wind chimes that you'd expect -- way more varieties of sounds surrounding you each night than you realize.
In addition to the reverberating metal chime, you'll hear thunky wooden ones; clinky sea shell ones; and nearly-silent dream catcher ones.
And, in your mindful state, you'll hear all other kinds of cool stuff.
I heard a screech owl and a couple of great-horned owl; I saw a family getting dropped off at home from the airport, with all their luggage in tow. My dog saw some kind of rodent in the grass, which she hunted ferociously (but unsuccessfully).
It was super fun.
And it felt good. Walking around in the dark, focusing on auditory, rather than visual, input, made my brain feel super alive and alert -- how often do we think more about what we're hearing than what we can see?
It helped me totally get birdwatching. At least... a little. It feels really cool and immersive and mindful to just listen. (I said it: "mindfulness" isn't about staring at congealed food -- it's about actively choosing activities that spark your imagination, that you can fully immerse yourself in.)
It also feels amazing to just move. After all, as I wrote in If You Want to Read ONE Book That Will Change Your Life Forever, This Is It, walking is one of the healthiest activities you can possibly do. Yet, over time, we've begun sitting more and more, and walking less and less.
While workers used to be very mobile – farming, assembling, etc. – most work is now done at a computer. This is illustrated beautifully by the evolution of the office chair. What used to be stiff and straight (why would it be anything else, considering the duration of the typical sit?) is now slouchy and cushy, adorned with armrests and casters (so you don’t even have to get up to throw out trash or collect documents from the printer!).
Entertainment incrasingly takes place inside the home -- meaning no walks to the parking garage. No strolls through the park. No trips to the rollerdome. Just... Netflix, Facebook, video games, and passive entertainment.
Our bodies were designed to move, and they feel best when moving -- even if only at the leisurely pace of 1.1 miles per hour. (For more on this, check out Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You, and What You Can Do About It, by Dr. James Levine.)
Wind chime walks are enriching for your mind and your body -- and they're a fun way to explore your neighborhood. If you have some "excuse" not to go, I have bad news for you:
Your "excuse" is probably flimsy at best.
Look at "Fit Mom" Maria Kang. She had the best body of her life -- when she had a 2-year-old, a 3-year-old, and an 8-month-old. Because physical fitness was important to her, and she found a way.
If she could find a way to do that, you can find a way to cut 20 minutes of screen time out of your nightly routine and do a wind chime walk. It's easy to plug in and tune out... but do you want to fill your life with "easy," or with wonder?
PS: There is no such thing as "too cold." There is only "not dressed appropriately for the weather."
1/14/2017 12:18:15 am
We don't have many wind chimes round our way my husband and I were talking about doing a bat walk sometime. There are plenty of bats.
1/15/2017 01:34:11 pm
Wow! That's pretty awesome -- and/or terrifying. I keep seeing this photo on my newsfeed of a bat that's the size of a dog :P
4/10/2017 08:49:48 pm
Thanks for this. I went for a walk in my neighborhood this evening, and when I started listening to the wind chimes, I felt connected and present. I hope I can keep up the habit.
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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