What’s Your Healing Ritual?

What’s your healing ritual? Mine is walking. Some might consider walking to and from work every day as more of a routine. But, it also has a healing, or spiritual aspect to it. It felt more like a ritual.

Part of Nicole’s typical walk to work in Toronto. The “flatiron building” in Toronto is centred in the picture.

I can still go for a walk during the pandemic. In the beginning of the lockdown, it felt very eerie to walk outside on deserted streets, where there was some uncertainty if one should even be out and about. But now, there is good information out there, to provide comfort that walking past people outside, not lingering, keeping your distance, etc., is pretty low risk. Not as low risk as some people behave, forgetting to social distance, as if we are in Stage 5, not in the cusp of Stage 2 in a Toronto. But, still, low risk.

Most of my walking these days is to run errands. Everything is within a 10-15 min walk radius. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not the same as walking to work every day.

Some days, with walking both ways to work, walking both ways to the gym, running errands, meeting people for social engagements (Remember those? Sigh), I could easily get in close to 25,000 steps in a day. That is a great activity boost, with or without my HIIT workouts and running. Now I walk from my second floor to my first floor for work. From the dining room to the living room (technically, same room) for my virtual workout.

I could get used to working from home indefinitely. But, I miss the routine of setting out fresh, on foot, in the morning. Enjoying the more sparsely populated sidewalks on the eastern portion of my route. And the bustle as I got closer to the financial district. At the end of the day, I may be a little mentally tired (or numb). The rush hour crowds near the office can seem a bit too much, but with each step away from downtown, I’d find energy that I didn’t know I still had in me for the day.

It’s not that every part of my daily walk was enjoyable. There are always reasons to be irritated. Mostly because people can be very irritating. But between absent-minded wanderers, entitled sidewalk hoggers, reckless drivers and flippant cyclists, would be pleasing city views, sights and senses unique to each season, friendly faces and courteous individuals.

A busy Toronto sidewalk, with people walking.

And walking the same route every day is meditative. At least for me. I love active meditation. I love long runs for the same reason. Other than being aware of traffic hazards, I am free to get lost in my head. Let repetitive thoughts move freely and not get stuck. I can explore my creative thoughts. Give angry thoughts an outlet with each step on the pavement.

I have other fitness routines. I still do my regular HIIT workouts. I still go for jogs and do some yoga. None of these things, save for the special 108 Sun Salutations that I do each solstice, seem like a ritual, the way walking does.

Do you have routines that feel more like rituals? What are they? Are you able to do them during this pandemic?

Nicole P. is looking for more opportunities for daily long a