Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

21 October 2010

Solvitur ambulando

Solvitur ambulando”. It is solved by walking, goes the Latin saying, and never was a truer word spoken. 
Walking is an excellent means to de-stress yourself, to re-energise, to stretch, tone and relax, to acquire poise and focus, and indeed, activate the natural healing energies within yourself. A Zen master was asked, “What is the Tao?”. “Walk on”, he replied. The human body is the ultimate exercise machine, and walking is the easiest, cheapest and safest way to burn away the harmful effects of stress and to bring back energy into your life. People often say to me “But where do I begin?”. Well, you just have to step out of home, go for a walk to the nearest park, or walk around the block. How far you go, or how fast you walk is not relevant. The important thing is to begin.

Here are some basic steps to follow:
  • ·         Poor posture is more often than not the culprit behind many a body problem. It saps our body of vitality and puts a stress on all our vital organs. So first off, think tall. Imagine that someone has run a string through you and is gently pulling you upwards. When you walk, keep your back straight, pull in your stomach and tuck in your buttocks. Your shoulders should be pulled gently back, but relaxed, your eyes looking forward.
  • ·         “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got the swing”, went an old Irving Mills song. This is true of walking too. Walk tall from your heel upwards. Have a smooth, rolling heel-to-toe motion. Lengthen your stride to as much as is comfortable. Swing your arms in opposite motion. Remember the mantra “heel-toe… heel-toe… heel-toe”!
  • ·         If you can afford it, invest in an iPod or a mobile phone which can play music. Music adds rhythm, energy and tempo to the walk. Mix the musical pieces to change your stride. However, remember that headphones may block out sounds of traffic and other dangers on the road. Be careful not to use earphones when walking late evening, or in lonely spots as it may make you unmindful of strangers with bad intent.
  • ·         Oxygen is free! Use as much as you can. Energise your walks by gradually increasing the speed. Remember, the speed should not be so high as to spoil your natural rhythm. Walk several paces at normal speed, then pick up speed and gradually reduce speed again. This helps prevent injuries such as pulled muscles. Do not push yourself too hard. A good test to see if you are going too fast: can you have a conversation without getting out of breath.
  • ·         Your feet carry all your weight. Be kind to them. Buy yourself a good, comfortable pair of shoes. My personal trick for testing comfort is to buy shoes at the end of a day. You see, by evening, feet are tired and sometimes gently swollen. When you try a new pair, always check whether there is enough space around the toes. Don’t fall for sales talk which tells you about how shoes will stretch – they never do! If a shoe is not comfortable, it’s not for you.
  • ·         Don’t let walking become a chore. “Roamertherapy” is a great way to live a quieter, simpler life. If you have children, or a dog, take them on any weekend for an impromptu walk to a scenic spot. Let Nature work its magic on you, stand and stare, climb up, down, just stand and stare. This does not have to always be about achievement, just about slowly savouring peace and beauty.
  • ·         I also love ‘’walktalk’’ therapy. In troubled times, it is great to go for a walk with a friend. A walk in the woods, or by the sea, or just about anywhere all the while talking away your troubles can be better than expensive therapy, or drowning your sorrows in alcohol or drugs! Take your partner, your children or a friend out for a walk – and watch your depression evaporate.
  • ·         Weather or not, just walk! Don’t let the extremes of weather faze you. Observe the changes of the season and prepare accordingly. In summer, set your alarm for early and enjoy the early-morning coolness before heat sets in. Wear light-coloured cotton clothes which reflect the heat. In winter, cover up your extremities and wear light layers which you can add or remove. Follow your inner light. Ignore negative self-talk which says “It’s so much better to catch those 15 minutes of extra sleep”, or “why go out into the cold when you can be comfy at home?”
  • ·         I love walking meditation. The idea is to nurture mindfulness and self-awareness. Savour the sights and sounds around you. Open your mind to a beautiful sunrise, to the chirping of birds, to the laughter of children. Consciously empty your mind of all thoughts, focusing only on your stride, your rhythm and on your breathing. Count your paces if you find it hard to focus. Breathe in and out at each pace. If your mind wanders, let it do so. Allow thoughts to come in, welcome their presence, then let them go. Bring your thoughts back to the number of paces you have covered.

W  We lead sluggish lives most of the time. We think that working a lot, or simply rushing about from place to place equals activity. The truth is that our heart  rarely gets to pump hard. Oxygen rarely courses through us they way it ought to – making us feel alive, energetic and vital. But exercise can change all that. Walking can change all that! 
T   The  beauty lies in simply walking without bothering about destinations or goals. Thich Nhat Hanh says “Your steps are the most important thing.” Forget about removing stress, losing weight, finding energy or any of those things. The important thing is to simply focus on your steps. Take one little step at a time, whether on your walk, or in your life.
And you will see – solvitur ambulando!


Kamal Sharma said...

Love it.

varsha said...

Well said! Geetali.*BIG HUG*
I wish I was there to match your stride.My spirit will be there though.

varsha said...

Well said Geetali!
Wish I was there to match stride with you.
My spirit will be there though-*Big Hug*.

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