Today's I decided to walk for health more than bird watching so I went up the hill from White Coppice and on towards Heapey Moor. I find walking is good for relaxation. The exercise gets oxygen flowing. I listen to my breath and my feet fall into its rhythms: quick, short steps synchronise with short, shallow breaths. It puts you at one with yourself (body and mind).
The rhythms let words and thoughts flow. I don't hinder them but observe them and let them flow like wind through hair. It's the place where poems and lesson plans begin.
It's also a cathartic place. I recall falling into step with strangers and hearing their life stories as they walk up hills and across the fells. When all is said, I subtly take another path and leave them wondering why they've been induced to say so much to a total stranger. It's not me - it's the exercise that releases the toxins in the mind so we can let them fall away towards any willing ear - and there is a place for that.
However, walking at its best should leave folks refreshed. So when folks find themselves falling into a downward spiral of negative thoughts, I find the most helpful exercise to do is 'grounding'. By that I mean control your thoughts. Instead of concentrating on the negative, listen to your breath, feel the muscles in your calves - and listen some more. Listen out for the scrape of boot on rock, listen for the burbling of streams, the rushes rustling, and pinpoint the direction of bird calls, scan sky and bracken tops for them and revel in the pleasure of being one with the moor.
Top photo is the edge of Heapey Moor by me. Bottom photo is a juvenile stonechat by Richard Spence.