If we made a map of what we think about as we walk around the city or the park across the way —a respite from out daily life of writing and working on various projects— it would look like Richard Tuvey’s painting Taking a Line for a Walk. It’s a fine expression of the nexus between walking and creative thinking, the scientific whys of which we learned about in a New Yorker article by Ferris Jabr:
Scans done by Dr. Chuck Hillman from University of Illinois Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory show just what happens to your brain after 20 minutes of walking: More red in the walking scan shows more connections in the brain and more ability to concentrate.
We take a walk daily because it never fails to refresh our thinking, change our view of things, calm us. We find our mind shifting, ideas sparking, problems beginning to yield in ways we never expect. Rilke nailed it in A Walk
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-
and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
—Translated by Robert Bly
One thought on “Why Walking Helps Us Think (Rilke + Ferris Jabr)”
Enjoyed this article very much. I walk daily and find many health benefits from it. It’s free, many walking options and yes it’s a time for self reflection. Thanks for sharing this important information during this pandemic.