📝 Journal | I disqualified myself from being a New Yorker for 13 days

by walking 4x slower under any circumstance

My Kickstarter campaign was officially over yesterday — successfully funded thanks to everyone's kindness, generosity and support! 🎉🎉🎉

When I talked about the emotional roller coaster that Kickstarter put me on, I mentioned about a personal challenge that I started on the same day as the launch with the hope to keep myself sane.

Inspired by Walk with me, a documentary about a community of monks in France led by Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh that offers an intimate glimpse into mindfulness practice and the monastic life, I decided to practice the “semi" walking meditation (I just couldn't survive in New York going full force on that every day) throughout the entire course of my campaign.

Below are some notes about the experience that I jotted down at the end of each day.

Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash

Day 01

I noticed a variety of facial expressions. I didn’t realize I have walked past this many people every day. What are they thinking, I wondered. I tried to tell if someone was paying attention to their surroundings (homeless folks seemed to be the ones who won this category), trapped in their trains of thoughts, or walking mindlessly to their destination.
This pace of walk drove me crazy. It challenged my patience; even my heart started to beat up when I was getting close to my destination. But other moments, it felt so relaxing, as if nothing mattered much. There was an interesting connection between how I felt and how I walked.
I felt judged by everyone around. I got sandwiched by subway doors and almost run over by a car. I anxiously wanted to catch up with everyone’s speed. Walking slowly gave me more time to process my thoughts and stabilize my emotions.

Day 02

It’s hard to be anxious and walking slowly at the same time, except for not getting used to the new pace. I remembered everything much better the next day (the cute dog, the pavement textures). Maybe because I spent 4x time longer observing them? While crossing the street, it hit me –so many faces that I passed by every day without notice.

Day 03

The way I behaved while walking like this was the exact way how I meditated. I focused for a couple seconds at first, then I zoned out. I started to plan for what to do today, or just dwelled in thoughts. Then I caught myself in the middle it, went back to mindfulness for another couple of seconds, then everything happened again. I wondered if I got better at this, would my meditation improve too?
When I was walking and talking to my friend, I could feel the calmness in the walk.

Day 04

I stayed home all day, only came out to buy some fruits and veggies at a street vendor. I was lost in my thoughts.

Day 05

I might have annoyed a lot of cars at the crosswalks and the unfortunate friends that had to walk with me during this challenge. I got used to the pace now, which mean it’s easier to lose focus. When I came up to a friend, he commented, “Your appearance is just… so calm.”

Day 06

Walking slowly gave me moments of stillness since the walk was too long that I ran out of things to think about or got tired of thinking. Cold days were much harder to do this, and I saw the rush in everyone passing by.

Day 07

I tried listening to meditating music while walking today. This slow pace started to spread to other daily activities besides walking. I felt like walking on a cloud most of the time.

Day 08

I discovered a new pace. I thought I couldn’t get any slower. Even when walking with friends, I could still feel when each part of my feet touched the ground. Recently, it went from “left, right” to “heel, toe (right), heel, toe (left).”

Day 09

I came 30mins late to my the therapist appointment. I couldn’t make myself walk faster. Later, I finally picked up the pace cause I was running late to an interview. It felt forced as if I lost the capability of walking fast.

Day 10&11

I stayed at home and slept for 25+ hours due to exhaustion. Side note, at the end of Day 11, my Kickstarter reached the goal!

Day 12

I got cramp due to eating while walking (running late to a meeting again). I got caught up in observing the experience rather than being in it. The night before was kinda emotional (especially when I reached the Kickstarter goal), but looking at the trees reminded me that everything was ever-changing. This excitement shall pass. Everything, both uncomfortable and lovely, does eventually pass.

Day 13

I ended my challenge today. Getting back to the regular pace might take a while. I sometimes got anxious while walking with friends, especially those with long legs & fast pace.

Maybe this is how we go through life, rushing from point A to point B.

Product Designers by day, Zen practitioner all the time 🧘🏻‍♀️ One mindful moment at a time