Walk with Mike
I live on the slopes of the Malvern Hills, a long thin ridge of hills forming the boundary between Herefordshire and Worcestershire. When I need a lift or to think things through, I go walking on the Hills. This clears my head, allows me to rise up above my immediate concerns, and connect to what is important.
And many of my clients find the same thing - and that being coached while walking can be even more effective than conventional coaching. I offer walking coaching to all those clients who come to see me in Malvern. When arranged in advance, you can swap any 2-hour standard coaching session for a 3-hour walking coaching session. Longer sessions can also be arranged.
"Walking is a man's best medicine" Hippocrates
Why Walk and Coach?
Being coached while walking can produce better coaching outcomes because:
- we think better: The rhythm of walking, the different kind of attention we have when outdoors improves the quality of our thinking, reducing many of the interferences that often inhibit our creativity
- we are less cluttered: just as we leave most of what we own behind when we go out walking, so we also leave our responsibilities and, to some extent, our roles behind. And, partially unencumbered by the usual complexities of our lives, we are free to be more authentic and connect to what is most meaningful for us
- we are energised: humans have co-evolved with the natural world - and we can know ourselves more fully when we are in that world, rather than in the unnatural world of concrete offices, brick houses, and steel transport we spend most of our time in. Immersing ourselves in the nautural world, even for short periods of time, is naturally curative.
- we think more spaciously: the external spaciousness we experience while up on the Malverns is reflected in an inner spaciousness when out walking that allows us to have conversations we don't normally have the space, time or context for. People are able to bring more of who they are to conversations they have - and so have conversations that make a difference.
- we are connected to a greater whole: Modern life and offices have isolated us from many natural rhythms and events. When we walk we are much more aware of them because they directly affect us - dusk falling, a shower of rain, the heat of the sun, a gust of wind. By living more closely entwined with the world, we realise that we are part of the world - we can only be healthy when it is too.
- we get a clearer sense of ourselves. Life, especially organisational life, throws a continual stream of challenges at us and we easily lose a sense of which parts of our experience are merely responses to these situations - and which are our essential selves. Out in the open in the reflective space I can help you hold, you more clearly know who you are.
- it relaxes us and makes us fitter: we carry stress in our muscles. Walking helps unknot these muscles and release the tension.
Walking and coaching is particularly well suited for engaging with the bigger, deeper issues that we face around our purpose in life, who we are as leaders, what our vision for the future is - though sometimes its just about blowing the cobwebs out of our minds!
"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking" Friedrich Nietzsche
The Malverns are criss-crossed by a network of paths. This allows us to choose walks with gentle gradients or more demanding walks as preferred. And even when the weather has been wet we can choose walks where we won't get bogged down in mud. Bring walking shoes or trainers and a waterproof. If, on the day, you decide you'd rather not go out on the Hills, we can easily substitute an indoors session. Other walking locations are also possible.
For more information please contact me.
"Thoughts come clearly while one walks." Thomas Mann
Thoughts on Walking
Walking, especially in nature, has been important to many creative artists, writers and thinkers. Here are some reflections:
"The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making." Rebecca Solnit
"Walking exercises the whole person. It exercises the body-- it gives the arms and legs a workout. It stimulates the flow of blood; expands the lungs. It is gentle and relaxing. It exercises the mind-- it shakes up the brain cells. It fills them with oxygen; drives out the cobwebs. A famous scientist says he does his best thinking on the two miles of sidewalk between his home and office. Walking exercises the emotions. It gives you a chance to observe and enjoy the world. Open your eyes to beauty. See the homes, the trees, the gardens. See the shining faces of little children. Listen for the church chimes, singing birds and the laughter of happy people." Wilferd A. Peterson
"Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. . . if one keeps on walking everything will be alright." Soren Kierkegaard
"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a person when one goes for a walk." Raymond Inmon
"I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs." Jean Jacques Rousseau
"The mere thought of walking outdoors on a brilliant golden-blue day causes fire-works of delight to go off in most people's psyche. It gives one an instant feeling of happiness and that is meditation! We are not only in touch, at that moment, with the physical splendour of nature, but also with the beauty of merging our own spiritual nature with it." Karen Zebroff
"The mental benefits of walking are also many. Walking for me has a very similar effect to meditation for other people. It helps me to clear my mind, and it helps me to think through problems and dilemmas. When I'm out walking without hurry and without a destination, my mind tends to relax as I focus on so many things outside of myself, as I see the natural world around me and breathe the fresh air. A long walk can help me to reach a state of clarity much more easily than any other practice that I've ever discovered, and walks have often helped me through difficult times in my life." Tom Walsh
"Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow." Henry David Thoreau
A massive study involving data from more than 140 studies and 290 million people revealed that exposure to greenspace, defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation, led to significant health benefits. Reductions in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number), salivary cortisol (a physiological marker of stress) and heart rate, along with significant decreases in Type 2 diabetes and mortality from all causes and those specifically related to the heart were noted. Dr Mercola website