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Sunday, 14 February 2016

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Let us walk...and talk

I hear people say that conversation is a lost art. They say people come together and don't know what to do if their eyes aren't growing glassy in front of a TV screen. It's true, conversation is a lost art, but it's not the fault of the TV screens. There was another art lost first that goes with talking the way peanut butter goes with jelly. That art is walking.

Thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through history. It is only a recent idea that we meet around tables, seated in chairs. Aristotle was said to walk as he taught, founding what we now refer to as Ancient Greece's Peripatetic School of Philosophy.


Pic - Google Images

This name was derived from the colonnade or walkway in the Lyceum in which he taught. The Sophists, philosophers predating Socrates, were wanderers. They travelled place to place on foot delivering talks.

Walking meetings

The average Sri Lankan sits 9 hours a day. This knowledge has inspired a new wave of work life balance. 'Desk job' workers are increasingly incorporating a healthier lifestyle at work: walking meetings! This trend is slowly taking off and putting corporate workers back in control of their health.

Walking for just 30 minutes can dramatically improve health and is a simple preventative measure for dementia, breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease.

Along with health benefits, walking meetings have been shown to increase creativity and productivity.

Walking meetings are a great step towards a better workday. A study at Stanford discovered the positive effect walking meetings has on creativity, finding that 81 percent of participants can come up with more ideas after they walk. Additionally, the ideas people come up with are more novel and appropriate to the situation.

What's even more interesting is, regardless of the location, walking while chatting boosts creative inspiration.

The person walking either indoors (on a treadmill) or outdoors 'produced twice as many creative responses compared to a person sitting down.'

Walking meetings are incorporated by some of the world's greatest leaders and innovators. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Weiner are all famous for their forward-thinking companies; however, what is less known is their support and participation in walking meetings. Historically, Sigmund Freud conducted training analyses through evening walks.

Global corporate director Nilofer Merchant suggests conducting one-on-one meetings as walking meetings.

Adventures

As kids, we were all experts at walking while chatting. With a good friend in tow, we could put our tongues and feet in gear and go. Everywhere and nowhere, feet and conversation would take us on some unexpectedly glorious adventures. We knew how to circle the same block for years and still find something fresh to explore or to talk about.

When I was in school I expanded walking three kilometre trek from home to the Bus stand (and back) every day. Even so, my walks lost none ofits luster. I had a set of friends who accompanied me. We enjoyed every metre of the journey and it was great way to start the day.

The story

I know of a decent family leading an austere life. Two decades ago, they did not have a private vehicle of their own. When the wife met her husband,the highlight of their dates became walking to and from. Not much conversation goes on during a movie or a rock concert, but on a long walk, there's no way to get around it. When you take a walk with a person, you really get to know him; there are no distractions to hide behind.

Let us listen to her story in her own words. "The time finally arrived when my husband and I became contributing members of society. With the business of working and raising a family, the walking went first, followed closely by the talking. So it went through the years until one day in the January of 2004, when my three-year-old son watched the other two children go off to school, then turned to me and offered to take me for a walk."

"Like any child, he was an artful walker. He knew never to walk in a straight line or in a continuous fashion; you must start, stop and double back. Any clod of dirt requires thorough investigation. You must assess its consistency, how far it can be kicked or thrown and whether, after all this, it will fall apart or hold together. You have to collect things too. Rocks, old bent nails and wilted flowers all make wonderfulthings to. Rocks, old bent nails and wilted flowers all make wonderful collections."

"After both of us began to make our walks a regular pastime, a surprising thing happened. He learned to carry on an interesting conversation. Then I understood what is meant by 'real' conversation. Real conversation is when one person says something, the other listens, considers and responds. This is repeated many times. I had thought my son was too young and I too old for anything like that. I was really wrong."

"My son was full of questions and observations like, "How does your food get all the way down to feed your toes?" Away from the distractions of my work, and he from his toys, we were able to explore these profound topics. We then began to include my five-year-old daughter when she came home from school. We found out why people have bodies during one such walk with her. It's to keep their heads from falling down to their knees." She ends up the story. "My children are now grown up and busy with their studies. My husband and I are continuing with our walks. The children join us whenever they are free. It doesn't matter which direction we head in or if we get anywhere in particular. The best part is kicking up the dust as we amble through our conversations.We may not be discovering much about road side nature, but we are discovering each other."

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