The art of living well: On taking a walk…

Never underestimate the power of a change of scenery and a change of pace when it comes to your self-preservation and wellbeing. Jackie Burger takes us on a walk through her day.

Our Karoo home is small but welcoming, just the way we wanted it to be. The generous stoep coaxes friends who arrive in a hurry to step inside and slow down. Or it does duty as the setting for impromptu dinners at the long table as the sun sets and the painterly sky displays an array of fiery hues. Later, as the evening draws to a close, it becomes the perfect vantage point for savouring the brilliant display of stars against the Karoo sky.

Things of beauty

Each of the four rooms has salvaged French doors that open onto the stoep. Opening them as the day breaks has always been a treasured ritual for me. Today there is a cool morning breeze that gently stirs the voile bedroom curtains. They open briefly and a pink pre-dawn sky flickers into focus.

Then it’s time for my second morning ritual as Lahmo, my beloved cat, jumps onto the bed and starts his morning routine – pawing me and tickling my face with his whiskers. This is how he coaxes me out of bed so that he can get his pre-breakfast treat.

This is when I prepare for the day. First, I make coffee and jot down a few thoughts in my diary. Then Lahmo and I go for a morning stroll in the garden, pausing to pick a ripe pomegranate or fig in our small orchard, watch a toktokkie crossing the footpath or listen to birdsong under an acacia tree. This is all I need to open my senses, regain my equilibrium and get a good dose of revitalising endorphins. No other prescriptions are needed.

My weapons against the busyness

I do have a small arsenal of soul-nourishing weaponry, though, that I turn to frequently. It consists of a few things and habits that I have carefully selected (or collected) over the years that allow myself a space or a place to dream in peace and let the life force of creative thought run its course.

I read. My library of books spans easy-read novels, fashion bibles and beauty and wellness guides. Did I mention my love of future-forward thinking and delving into the zeitgeist; what makes us do the things we are doing precisely now, at this juncture? Books are my gateway to a universe of knowledge and also an escape to other worlds, other ways of being.

My bathroom is my sanctuary. This is where I shed my stresses. It is filled with sensory contentment, from fragrant lotions and potions to my own bath-time playlist of music that makes the real world go away for just a little while. An eye mask is mandatory if you want to truly slip into a meditative state of nothingness. That’s when I truly let go.

Being still. I have always struggled to fall asleep owing to an overactive mind and the stress that comes with having had a high-adrenaline career. (Old habits die hard!) A few years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which led to a drastic rethink of my life choices and our eventual move to the Karoo. The stillness here is tangible and there is space to be quiet. Yet being still remains a challenge for me – to stop the self-chatter and become one with the sounds I want to hear. It’s a habit I’m acquiring, though. Where I used to rush out the door in the mornings, I now stroll in the garden with my cat for company. Every day we make a little progress, me with restoring my inner peace and tranquillity and Lahmo with getting acquainted with toktokkies and things that rustle in the grass after having only a small courtyard at his disposal at our previous home.

The joy of taking a walk

In his book Awakening to the Sacred, Lama Surya Das poses a challenge: ask yourself, in the course of your daily life what activities make you feel most grounded and alive? What makes you feel connected and at home with yourself and your surroundings?

Like the author, I find my solace in nature. Living in the Karoo spoils us with a vast choice of nature’s best. The majestic Swartberg Pass sits next to the town like a cathedral and fills me with wonder. Walking in the veld at twilight broadens my spiritual horizons and a midday stroll clears my mind. I realise not everyone has the veld and the Swartberg Mountains outside their front door, but it’s about daily practice and baby steps.

A walk around the block at lunchtime will make your day much more manageable and help to focus your thoughts amid the demands of the day. It literally helps to keep my feet on the ground.

I leave you with this beautiful extract from Awakening to the Sacred. Read it in your own time and practise as neede:.

Meditation: Grow Yourself

Go to a garden
And just stand in it.
Breathe in the air, the fragrances,
the light, the temperature,
the music of different plants, insects, birds,
worms, caterpillars, grasshoppers and butterflies.
Inhale the prana (cosmic energy) of all these
abundantly growing things.
Recharge your batteries.
This is the joy of natural meditation.


As former editor-in-chief of Elle SA, Jackie Burger consistently
raised the style bar and remained true to herself amid fast
fashion trends. Now she has taken another brave step in pursuit of the space and time for greater wellbeing.