Anyone who knows me, knows that I love walking so here I am again writing about getting out walking! Not only does it provide tremendous mental and physical health benefits, and time for meaningful conversation, but it is a wonderful way to experience being a part of the community. Sometimes that may be as simple as waving to neighbours along route, getting to know the various dog-walkers who faithfully get out no matter what the weather, or just observing what’s new in the neighbourhood. Other times it may involve going to a street festival or other community event where there is an abundance of opportunity to engage in various activities.
We have a wonderful community hub where I live, called the Riverwalk Commons and it truly is a place where people of all ages and interests are drawn to throughout the year. This community space sits just below our old downtown Main Street and along a walking path that extends nearly all the way to the adjacent towns south and north of us. During a brief walk with my husband and grand-daughter along this beautiful walking path, we saw one person after another engaged in a positive activity of some sort. There was no special event happening during this time, it was simply a beautiful summer day during the week around supper time. There were children playing in the splashpad and at the playground; there were many other walkers – some couples, families, individuals, pets, and beautiful wood-carvings along the pathway. We respectively passed by groups and individuals doing yoga in the park, and we made way for many joggers and cyclists. We saw guitarist Brian from Toronto sitting under a shady tree. Humans are hardwired to enjoy music, since it activates the brain’s reward system (dopamine), we experience a natural high. Music is one of the most powerful tools for self-expression that we have. “It has the power to expand our cognitive range. It has the power to move and inspire. It has the power to connect. And it even has the power to heal” (Kerry Song, “Music and Your Brain”). We even had the joy of watching our grand-daughter fascinated by the many geese busy grazing on the abundant green grass.
To be a part of this experience was awesome and inspiring. I encourage you to engage in something positive, whatever that may be for you. We arrived home feeling refreshed, hungry and really good! When we fill our lives with these kinds of simple, but very positive experiences, we lift our mood, clear our mind, enhance our relationships, and build community.