Tik-Tokker discovers silent walking

Category : General advice 30th November 2023

Inside yoga 327

I recently read a news story about a Tik Tok influencer who claims to have started a “movement” and told her almost 50,000 followers that they should try “silent walking”.

The Los Angeles based podcast host Mady Maio, who is 28, claims to have invented a new exercise trend which consists of walking outside with no earphones.

She told newspapers that her boyfriend challenged her to walk without distractions. No air pods, no podcast, no music.

She said: “I was like f*** no, my anxiety could never. The first two minutes are mayhem. Your mind is racing, you’re going to have anxiety. But something happens after two minutes where your brain just gets into this flow state and suddenly you can hear yourself.”

An indication of the bizarre world of social media, Mady’s video racked up over 500,000 views and seems to have inspired others to take up her wellness trend.

Another podcaster, Arielle Lorre said she was proposing a new “walk concept” called “the silent girl walk”. She said the “benefits of being in nature were indisputable” but that it is a “rare thing to be outside these days without being distracted”.

Such is the popularity of these posts, this activity called silent walking is now being genuinely spoken about as a wellness trend.

One TikTokker, says silent walking “saved her life” after her divorce and that she had to “build up her ability to walk in silence”.

When I was first told about this and then read about it, I had two thoughts, firstly, it is great that these people have discovered that silence and walking, especially if done at the same time, are beneficial activities which boost one’s well-being.

Secondly, I was amused, and thought it a sad reflection of the social media world, that this influencer spoke as if she had discovered something new the world has not thought of before – whether that was her thought or not, this was the impression it gave, as the same news report said that numerous people had mocked the brave new trend and said that Mady has taken credit for something that has always been done.

But these influencers could be seen as victims of their own success, reaching a point when they think every message they put out is their own, unique and never heard of before. Bless them!
Walking and being silent is as old as humanity; generations of humanity have learnt to experience silence, and many learn to benefit from it; it is good that this Tik-Tokker has found it, and she can be excused from trying to exploit it and benefit from it, at least she is promoting a good thing.

As a yoga teacher, and as a meditator, I have spent more than 20 years encouraging others to spend some of their time in silence, and also as a walker, going for walks.

We can all get into patterns and constantly listening to music or podcast via earphones is common. I see so many people wearing earplugs, whether it is walking or running, whether it is in the countryside where I live, and in the city where I work.

It is not just the younger generation, but I hazard a guess that in percentage terms, earplugs usage is higher among the Generation Z, who have become so glued to their ear phones, phones, devices which emit music or other sounds continuously, they don’t know what it is to do something as simple as go for a walk without distractions of music or a podcast in their ears.

What is revealing and important observation by Mady is where she describes her anxiety when considering silence, and then the transition to being comfortable with silence, but with the short attention span that I am sure the Gen Z have, this process as she describes it took just two minutes!

Trying something new can in most cases be daunting.

I recall my first silent meditation retreat, in 1995, and how strange and uncomfortable it felt to sit in silence for long periods – this was a ten-day meditation silent retreat, and I do think my transition from restlessness and awkwardness at being not only silent, but sitting still, towards being comfortable with silence, took longer than two minutes!

But it did happen, and the more I did meditation retreats, developed a regular meditation practice, and spent time in silence, the more comfortable I became with silence. And eventually I sought silence and enjoyed it with all its benefits.

Once immersed in silence I realised what a great place it is.

So leaving aside the smug “we already knew this” attitude towards this young social media influencer it is good to see she has found the benefits of silence, even if it is a short walk in silence, because this is better than nothing. All the teachers I had same message, that regular moments, even a few minutes, of silence and meditation, is better than not at all.

I have mentioned silence and walking, sometimes in conjunction, over the years, below are links to previous articles I have posted relating to this topic.
Silence is Golden: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2019/12/09/silence-is-golden/
Silence please: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2015/10/19/silence-please/
Enjoy the Silence: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2013/05/13/enjoy-the-silence/
Saving endangered silence: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2013/02/01/saving-endangered-silence/
Stop Listen: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2021/03/21/stop-listen/
Look up and see: https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2019/11/18/look-up-and-see/

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