Even the longest journey begins with a first step
It is not quantity, it is quality. I learned this important rule after years of studying and participating in countless seminars and lectures. If I could learn only one thing from an entire day in class that I can apply in my life, it is worth all my time and effort.
Almost two years ago, on a sunny and windy April day, the famous Deepak Chopra, world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and bestselling author of more than 85 books, came to Bermuda. He was sharing insights from his latest publication The Healing Self during a free public event.
This event took place at a packed Fairmont Southampton auditorium.
A lively crowd gathered to learn from his wisdom and experience. We all desired to understand how we can create a more peaceful and happier world that begins with each of us choosing to transform ourselves. Everyone was in joyful anticipation of listening to one of the spiritual icons of the century.
I left somewhat surprised. Although I enjoyed his presentation, nothing touched me personally, not even one thing.
The following October I visited my daughter, Maria, in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Being born in Siberia, we both love forests and went for a long walk in the state park. We were enraptured by the peak autumn foliage. Brilliant oranges, yellows and reds splashed amongst the maple, oak and elm, and the birch groves danced against the sparkling blue waters of the lakes.
We inhaled the tart smell of autumn leaves. I stopped in my tracks as a revelation rolled through me.
“10,000 steps! We should walk 10,000 steps every day! Deepak Chopra said that it is what he does, and it will significantly improve our health and wellbeing! ”
Maria gazed at me curiously. “How far is 10,000 steps?”
I laughed: “About five miles! Finally, I got his lesson! It took me a while.”
That’s when Maria and I started a new and important routine. To count our steps we use a health app on our phones. I spent a week in Maine and we kept walking every day. Instead of lingering in restaurants and talking over a meal, we preferred to go to the nearby state park to walk and talk. After I left Maine, we began exchanging text messages with our walking results.
Sixteen months came and went. This relaxing habit became a part of my everyday life. It pushed me to get up from the couch even late at night and start walking.
I walked relentlessly on the deck of a sailboat in West Papua, Indonesia under the astonished looks of our crew. I walked around inside our villa in Bali late into the evening because I was afraid to go outside and get a Dengue mosquito bite. I walked back and forth in the airport transit zone in Switzerland where we were quarantined for three days during the pandemic. I walked silently in the long halls of our hotels in the early mornings before everyone was up. I made my husband Bill laugh many times when after we were settled together in bed; I would glance at the app and leap up to do a final 500 or so steps around our bedroom.
I vividly remember one evening in the ancient city of Chiang Mai, Thailand last year. We were at the iconic Boys Blues Bar and Bill was playing blues harmonica with a rocking band. It was late at night and I looked at my phone and saw that I still had to walk about 5,000 steps more that day. I shook my head. “No way I can do it!” As Bill played, the dance floor filled up with a wildly gyrating crowd and I found the solution! I stood up and danced and danced!
Now, I am so delighted to have long and peaceful walks here in Bermuda on the most beautiful beaches in the world. I walk on the beach barefoot because sand provides uneven resistance that strengthens my arches, ankles and leg muscles, and I burn more calories. It is a free and powerful foot massage!
I counted my steps today and found out that I walked 2,400 miles in the last year, the distance from Washington, DC to San Francisco.
Do I feel better? Absolutely! Walking holds something more important for me than just health benefits. It is a strong and satisfactory feeling of accomplishment. Achieving that daily goal of 10,000 steps creates a winning attitude.
Sometimes, I don’t want to walk at all. Perhaps I am tired, not feeling well, or a chilly winter gale is blowing, but I try and motivate myself to accomplish this one simple thing, because as Deepak Chopra said: “Even the longest journey begins with a first step.”