30 Days to Buns of Steel and a Zen Mind

1. Ideally, start on a sunny, crystal-clear day....I really like late afternoons, sunsets, sunrises (on the rare occasions I stay up all night), and clear, moonlit nights, but foggy times are not without their charm. Anytime can be good. Be prepared for the weather.

2. Wear your happiest shoes.

3. Enhance your mood however you do.

4. Walk freely, swinging your arms a little. Breathe deep. Enjoy walking for the pleasure of being in your body, instead of focusing on getting somewhere. Go at a steady pace. Try to keep a good posture, and focus on your body; if you feel any part of your body is holding itself stiffly, try to relax it and direct breath into it. Try walking as noiselessly as possible, and listen closely to all the sounds around you, as though you were a wary animal stalking.

5. Either wander aimlessly, turning up whatever street has the best light or curve, or pick a destination. In San Francisco it's great to to get someplace with a view and then pick a destination in the distance. Choose different routes than you usually take--avoid bad neighborhoods, but make friends with the hills! At first go lightly, but soon your body will be anticipating the hills with pleasure, it'll feel good to do the work. You'll be rewarded with cool sights and perspectives.

6. It helps me when walking uphill to do like the Indians did: bend your knee when you plant your foot, then gently hyperextend it straight. You get a nice stretch and the slight bounce will give you a small boost. Going downhill, lean back and enjoy it...you might look foolish, but who cares.

7. Try to trick your mind out of its usual state of being a chattering monkey. Even a few moments of peace feel good. One good way is to focus on your breathing: inhale all the way to the top of the lungs, hold it there a moment, then exhale all the way out, tightening the belly a little bit to force the last bit out. Or, count to yourself in your mind 1-2, 1-2 in time with your steps. Or, hold your hands in such a way that you are reminded to keep your mind on your body.

8. Sometimes I like to tune into the scenery, the ways people make their homes works of art and comfort, the play of light, the trees. Other times i like to avoid focusing my eyes on any one point, and instead take in the whole 180 degree field of vision in one sweep, as an animal might, without judging or admiring...

9. People may turn to stare at you, realizing in some dim way that you seem different. What it is is that you are enjoying your body, your senses, the moment, whereas most of them are mumbling to themselves in their head as they rush from point A to point B (which is how you and I are most of the time)...

October, 1998