As part of our Green Social Prescribing blog series (a project to help Surrey residents connect to nature to improve their wellbeing), this post written by a supporter of MFT describes how a simple walk with the dog turned into a mindful experience with nature.
“So today I am walking the dog – not my dog but a family dog, nevertheless. He has not been out all day and it is a bit of a blustery day, so he’s excited by the wind and by his walk. I can’t let him off the lead as he is not mine, but I decide to give him as much freedom as possible and let him pull, tug and sniff everywhere he wants along the way. With the breeze making his ears prick up and ruffling his coat this is no time for obedience and walking to heel.
While I wait for him to sniff the grass, I listen to the birds singing in the trees. They seem to be responding to the wind too, their notes becoming louder and shriller with every gust of wind. I have no idea what birds they are so I decide to concentrate on what I can see instead. There are signs of spring everywhere. Yellow primroses with velvet leaves are bunched around the verge and on the sunnier spots tiny daisies turn their faces to the sun, hoping to catch a few rays. The edges of their petals are already sun burnt. We walk a bit further and I catch the smell of the first early bluebell, except these are white.
I turn onto a walkway that I have not been along for ages. The dog is not keen; he has found a lovely patch of weeds to smell and is determined to make his mark there before I move him on. There are new houses by the side that was someone’s garden last time I walked this way. I wonder if they expected so many houses to be built there? A stray thought about the money they must have made and whether that made up for the loss of peace. But then 60 years ago steam trains ran along this path and so has not always been peaceful. There is a muddy stream running along the edge of the path; the dog looks at it longingly, but I don’t want to be mopping up a dog who has paddled in slimy water, so I keep him away. Just here there are steps for riders to dismount their horses before passing under a low bridge, and more the other side so they can get back on.
Here and there are small sets of spring flowers, little clumps of celandine with cheerful yellow petals, white wood anemones spreading under the trees, lots of leaves that will soon produce wild garlic, the odd garden flower seeded by a passing bird. Small late daffodils are hidden by the long grass and the heady smell of newly cut grass from a nearby garden hits my nose and makes me sneeze.
The dog is happily sauntering along, master of all he surveys, no other dogs to come and steal his kingdom. For years a house that is almost an abandoned building site has dominated this part of the walk and -yes- it is still there. Still untouched. I imagine the street on the other side must be part of a good neighbourhood because no-one has stolen any of the bricks or blocks that have lain there for years waiting to be turned into the des.res [desirable residence] that seems to currently be the home of a very large family of foxes. Talking of which, one lazily crosses the path 20 feet in front of us. The dog is not bothered – he is getting tired. I am faintly perturbed that a wild animal has no fear of people. He looks at me, like I’m trespassing on his world.
The trees are still swaying overhead, sometimes a branch that has been snapped off tempts the dog into trying to pick it up. He is over ambitious, unaware of his size and the impossibility of carrying a branch three times his size along a narrow path. He is reluctant to give it up, so I have to bribe him with a smaller offering, which he carries proudly along until something else takes his fancy.
And then suddenly we are at the end of the path. I realise that my walk has been a mindful experience, I have been so busy observing what has been around me that no worrying thoughts have entered my head. It has been just me, the dog, and our surroundings. The noise and hustle and bustle of the next part of our walk made even more noticeable by the peace that we had been through. So, I take the dog back to his rightful owner and make my way back home to rest.”
Want to blog for us?
If you’d like to write a walking blog or walking poem for us, even if you’ve never written before, we would love to hear from you! Please contact Connie, our Communications Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss. Don’t forget to include a picture or two of what you see on your walk for all to enjoy!