An Osteopath's View

Thoughts on leading a healthier life from Helena Greenwood at Jurassic Coast Osteopathy, Weymouth, Dorset

Taking pleasure in small things

I’ve started walking for health recently and as you will know if you’ve seen my ‘walk reports’ on my YouTube channel (link) I’m achieving some of the small physical goals that I’ve set myself, such as being able to reach the top of the flight of 150 steps at Church Ope Cove on Portland without stopping on the way up and in faster times.

In my videos I also talk about the mental health benefits which being in nature gives me; I feel calmer in nature and I find the peace and solitude (since I walk early in the morning and rarely meet people) a great antidote to the hectic pace of modern life and the demands that family, patients & professional obligations make of me.  I include a few minutes of meditation on the beach in the middle of every walk, regardless of the weather (I’ve been lucky that the worst it has been so far has been a bit foggy!) which also adds to my feeling of mental wellbeing.

I’m very happy that my new regime is working for me and really enjoying what I get from it - so much so that I’m thinking of adding an extra walk in my schedule as the gap from the first on Monday to the second on Friday seems awfully large.

However, what I didn’t realise before I started was how much that I hadn’t anticipated (or planned on) would come out of walking; I’ve been trying to think about how to capture that in the title of today’s blog, although I’m not sure that I’ve quite managed it, so I’ll try to explain.

What I’m finding is that the pace of walking (compared with running or cycling) and being outside (as opposed to being in a gym or a class) allows me to notice, enjoy and be interested in all sorts of ‘small things’. 

For example, I live on Portland and there are still some working quarries left here (not as many as in the Island’s past) but because I used to walk at weekends, even the active quarries seemed a bit abandoned and sad as nothing was happening. However early in the morning, there’s quite a lot of activity and I really enjoy seeing the giant ‘Tonka Toy’ tractors, lorries etc trundling up and down the quarry roads, because I never see that at weekends - so I get a different perspective walking in the week.

Another example is the sunrise - usually that happens while I’m doing other things at home, preparing to go to the clinic or driving to work; but on walk days (if I get up early enough), I can get down to Church Ope and on most days I can see the sun rise - different every time but always spectacular and something that I wouldn’t pay attention to on a ‘non-walking’ day (maybe that’s why I want to walk on more days!).

On the way down to the beach, I walk past quite a few buildings, the other day I caught the sunrise behind Pennsylvania Castle and Rufus Castle on the way down with the sea in the background which I’d not really noticed before (although sadly my photographs were rubbish so I can’t post them with this blog as I’d intended!), probably because I usually walk in the summer when all the leaves are on the trees so that view isn’t available.  

And on the way back, for the first time as I walked up towards Portland Museum, I noticed how one of the houses had been extended by building on to an old house and you can still see the outline of the old house (which hopefully you can see too in the photograph).

It’s not just what I can see that I notice, it’s what I can hear as well - the birds are shouting their heads off at that time in the morning.  There are lots of wrens at Church Ope, there are ravens and on the path I met a robin that was so tame I thought it might take cheese from my hand (if I had had cheese with me!).  Portland is also well-known as a landing & take-off location for migrant birds and so (if I remember to take binoculars) I might start to see more unusual birds - at the moment I can hear them & see them in the trees, but not see what they are and that’s only going to get more challenging as we move towards springtime.

So it’s not just the physical exercise, or the calm & peace but it’s the sense of being ‘immersed’ in my surroundings & my senses being heightened by that immersion, having the time & space to notice ‘small things’ I’d never noticed before and take pleasure in them (& the noticing).  Can’t wait to see how that develops as my walks go on.

Posted 93 weeks ago