Walking to a location in silence helps to set the mood and tone,
especially if the group has physical/social energy, the walk helps it to
dissipate and the mind transitions.
Arrange a walk or
small journey to a place in nature. Even if the walk is quite short,
it can help to create a sense of "a place apart" where new and different
games and activities can be encountered. The walk also provides a
real outdoor experience, a basis from which to start building shared
personal and group outdoor group experiences.
Make sure logistics are well
set up before briefing a Solo Walk (e.g., participants know how long, have
the right gear, etc.). Also, bring a first aid kit, food, water,
etc. if considered necessary.
There are many ways to walk,
yet we get stuck sometimes in walking where and how culture, society and
personal habits tend to lead us. Provide opportunities, space and
permission to walk in different ways.
Walking in Silence: I ask
students to walk in silence. This is often difficult for people to
do. Sometimes I stagger the times at which groups leave, but this
tends to work better for longer walks and smaller groups (other it takes
too long, with people waiting at each end). If the group sets off
together, then I more strongly brief that it is a silent activity.
If the silence code isn't followed, sometimes I let that happen if isn't
disturbing others too much (e.g., a quiet conversation between two
people) and then address it in a debrief when the group is together.
Finding Your Walk: I often
start by asking people if they've seen Dead Poet's Society, a movie that
makes you feel like you want to go out and teach kids. In DPS
there is a memorable scene in which the teacher (Robin Williams) takes
his students out into a courtyard and asks students to "find their own
walk". The students walk around the courtyard feeling somewhat
nervous and awkward, but the teacher persists and encourages them to
find their own funky and exaggerated ways of walking. I say it is
not necessary to walk like a chicken down the track but it helps to
frame the idea-space to open up the realms of "walking styles".
Sacred Run: I ask if anyone's
heard of the "Sacred Run", a native American Indian ritual that now
takes place around the world. It involves people running all day,
often in relay, and staying each night in different local indigenous
communities and sharing indigenous ceremonies and celebrations.
The run itself is a spiritual celebration/exercise in which each step is
considered a sacred contact with the earth. I simply invite and
suggest that this is an example of one way to walk.
Debrief: Since this is the
first "outdoor experience" in this session, I have learnt it is
important to use it an exemplar in terms of debrief process. A
simple way to start is to gather together in a circle (very important to
have everyone standing so they are in the circle (not behind others -
set this example early)) and ask "What happened on this walk - what do
you notice about how people walked, how you walked, what you noticed in
the environment, what kinds of thoughts and feelings occurred to
you...." I then strongly show appreciation of people's
contributions. Any contribution is OK - just simple observations are
fine. Some people spend more time with their own thoughts; some
people pay attention to environment; some people can't remember what
they did. If there was talking, I ask why. Was this out of
their comfort zone? Are there other topics on their minds that
need to be addressed?
A trail in nature.
Total ~ 10 - 60 mins. Reconnaissance of location needed beforehand.
For a longer session, combine with
Solo Hour in Nature
or other activities in final location or along the way.
A group walks in silence as a form of "physical
meditation". Helps to calm minds and set tone, providing an initial
personal and group experience in the outdoors.