Boost your creativity with a walk in the woods
Clearing your mind of as many conscious thoughts as possible for short periods can dramatically improve your cognitive processes and problem-solving abilities. When you let go of the things that seem most important along with all the external stimuli that flood your brain with noise, then your subconscious mind is free to go to work solving problems and clarifying your perspectives. Clearing your mind of clutter also relaxes your body and helps reduce stress.
Walking and exposing your mind to nature are effective techniques for relieving stress and stimulating positive brain activity. If you have access to a forest, or a place where you can walk for an hour or more surrounded by trees and nature, then you can combine the idea of meditation with exercise and nature to get the biggest boost to your mental performance. If you are having difficulty meditating at home, this process may help. Of course, you’ll also get the health benefits of stress relief and general exercise.
Before you begin, write down the problem or topic that you would like answers or clarification about. Write this in big, bold letters on a large piece of paper and stare at it for a few minutes. Then, leave that paper on your table, grab your pad and pen or pencil with you, and start your hour-long walk. Keep the pace for a reasonable ride, not a power surge. If you exercise too much with this process, your mind will start to think about other things, like the pain in your feet and lungs and the distance you still have to go. You want your mind to be free to relax and that will be easier if your body is relaxed and doing what it was designed to do, and that is walking.
Turn off your cell phone and leave your iPod music player at home. This process requires you to focus all of your attention on your natural surroundings. As you walk, scan the woods, trees, grass, bushes, and water for anything that looks or sounds even slightly interesting and write it down in your notebook. You are looking for items that would otherwise seem mundane, such as the bark of an interesting tree, very tall grass, a yellow wildflower, or an unusual shape on a tree that reminds you of something. Be sure to keep walking and don’t just stop and scan an area. Keep your eyes and ears attentive to everything around you and take a brief note about what you observe.
Walking stimulates neurons in the front of your brain and increases synaptic activity. It also balances stress hormones and helps you manage and deal with stress. Focusing your eyes and ears on elements of nature further stimulates the brain and pushes other thoughts to the background. This procedure mimics the practice of meditation by freeing your mind of conscious thoughts, with the added benefits of stimulating neurons and relieving stress.
Scanning the forest and taking notes only serve to focus your mind on things that provide positive stimulation and not things that add stress to your life. You can choose to save or throw away your notes after each walk. Practice this technique of walking in the woods several times a month and you will soon find that you have greater clarity, improved problem solving and reduced stress.