Do You Like Spending Time Alone With Your Thoughts?

Do You Like Spending Time Alone With Your Thoughts?

What do you do when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life? When you need to recharge your mental and physical batteries? Have you ever gone on a silent walk?

Do you like to spend time alone with your thoughts?

In “The Beauty of a Silent Walk,” Christina Caron writes about the simple power of setting one foot in front of the other and taking note of the world around you.

In a TikTok video that has now amassed nearly half a million views, the influencer Mady Maio describes taking a walk. But not just any walk: a silent one.

For her, the 30-minute stroll was revelatory. No podcasts, no music. Just “me, myself and I.”

She was resistant at first. (It was her boyfriend’s idea.) “My anxiety could never,” she said in the video.

Ms. Maio described the first two minutes as mental “mayhem” that eventually gave way to a “flow state.” Her brain fog lifted. Ideas started popping into her head because she was “giving them space to enter.”

The silent walk is TikTok’s latest wellness obsession, a blend of meditation and exercise that aims to improve mental health. Unlike the similarly trendy “hot girl walk,” a four-mile odyssey that requires goal-setting and giving thanks, the silent walk does not involve multitasking. There is no agenda other than to set one foot in front of the other and take note of the world around you.

Walking in silence is an ancient tradition rooted in mindfulness, a form of meditation that helps people focus on the physical sensations, thoughts and emotions of the present moment, without any judgment.

The article explores the benefits of silent walks:

Walking is a well-established balm for the mind and body. Research has shown that walking for as little as 10 extra minutes a day may lead to a longer life. And a 2020 study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that a 30-minute walk in an urban park reduced the amount of time that people dwelled on negative thoughts. Walking has also been shown to improve creativity and help fend off depression.

Ms. Lorre, who walks in silence for at least 45 minutes roughly four times a week, said that since she started this practice about a year ago, she now sleeps better, feels calmer and has more consistent energy throughout the day.

But for some people, the idea of a silent walk might seem torturous. One 2014 study found that, if left with no other option, people would shock themselves rather than sit alone with their thoughts.

“Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative,” the study authors wrote.

Walking, however, can make it more pleasant to spend time with ourselves, experts say.

Students, read the entire article and then tell us:

  • Does the idea of spending time alone in your thoughts appeal to you? Or does it sound boring or intimidating?

  • Have you ever tried taking a silent walk? If so, how was the experience? Did you find it relaxing, invigorating or healing?

  • What do you do to practice mindfulness or wellness? How do these activities affect your mental or physical health?

  • Arielle Lorre, a content creator in Los Angeles, says that she now sleeps better, feels calmer and has more consistent energy throughout the day because of her new walking ritual. Which benefits of silent walks described in the article resonate most with you?

  • One expert said, “There is great beauty and aliveness in the world outside of whatever it is we’re doing on our devices.” Do you agree? Do you find it hard to get away from digital devices and to be attentive to the beauty of the world around you?

  • After reading the article, do you think you might try walking in silence? What other wellness rituals would you recommend to friends or family?

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public and may appear in print.

Find more Student Opinion questions here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate these prompts into your classroom.