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The 12-Hour Walk challenge: 'I did it to learn how far my mindset can be pushed beyond its limits'

Nathalie Blanc (left) and Seth Streeter (right) are both finishers of the 12-Hour Walk
Nathalie Blanc (left) and Seth Streeter (right) are both finishers of the 12-Hour Walk Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Camille Bello
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The 12-Hour Walk is becoming a modern pilgrimage for those willing to invest a single day in exchange for perhaps unlocking their best life.

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Nathalie Blanc started walking before dawn in the dark, silent streets of Paris. Setting off at five in the morning, she finished at sunset 12 hours later.

During her 43.5 km walk, there was no music, no podcasts, no camera, or any digital distraction. But she wasn’t exactly alone.

The day-long stroll has become a form of modern pilgrimage for thousands of adults who are willing to invest a single day to declutter their minds, unlocking their best life.

For some, the walk is a gift.

"The gift of having permission to float wherever curiosity leads you. The gift of wandering, and through wandering, we get connected to our sense of awe," said Seth Streeter, who did his first 12-hour walk last December in Santa Barbara, California.

"You feel playful, you feel curious and connected".

Euronews
Seth Streeter during his first 12-hour walkEuronews

The 12-hour walking movement was launched by New York Times best-selling author Colin O’Brady who penned the book 'The 12-hour Walk.

O'Brady - whose adventures in extreme places such as Antarctica and Mount Everest have made him an expert on how to push our bodies to the limit - proposes a one-day prescription model that serves to eliminate your limiting beliefs "and prove you have the power to achieve anything".

His concept promises to help "climb to the top of the mountains of everyday life and cross the supposedly insurmountable limits of pain and effort," based on the knowledge he gained from his own experience of crossing Antarctica alone, walking 12 hours a day carrying a 170 kg sledge for 52 days.

The formula for the general public is much less demanding. And the principle is simple: you walk, at your own pace, for 12 hours in silence.

Participants may take as many breaks as they wish and for as long as they need them. The challenge isn’t a race, and it doesn’t matter if they walk one kilometre or 50.

The 12-hour walk "is more about untethering from what we're used to being so connected to, than about an endurance walk," said Streeter.

"I was curious… and I wanted to learn how far my mindset can be pushed beyond its limits," added Blanc.

Euronews
Nathalie Blanc completed her first 12-Hour Walk in Cape Town, South Africa, her home town.Euronews

Specifically, the finish line promises tapping what O’Brady calls the "Possible Mindset," which he says is "an empowered way of thinking that unlocks a life of limitless possibilities".

"The growth mindset is this kind of failing forward ability that gives people a constantly expanded perspective and willingness to try new things," explained Streeter.

The growth mindset is this kind of failing forward ability that gives people a constantly expanded perspective and willingness to try new things.
Seth Streeter
Tried the 12-Hour Walk

The fixed mindset, on the other hand, is different in that it operates from what we already know. "It's tied to our ego, and we don't branch out because we don't want to fail," he told Euronews Next.

In order to better to understand the growth mindset concept, Streeter, who outside his work in finance leads retreats on how to live a more meaningful and impactful life, shares an analogy.

"If I were to say, ‘take a deep breath and hold your breath; I have a stop stopwatch’. And you maybe go 45 seconds. And then, we bring a professional breath coach to teach you how to do deep diaphragmatic breathing, and so, the second time you hold your breath, you go three and a half minutes," he said.

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"You'd be like, 'wow, I never knew I could hold my breath for three and a half minutes'. The 45 seconds were a self-limiting belief. And I like to use that as a metaphor and say, ‘where else are we holding on to self-limiting beliefs?'"

This walk allows you to push them, and ultimately, “disconnect from the neuroplasticity of routine thoughts and connect to a deeper truth within yourself,” he concluded.

“For me, it was a gift for my inner, younger me: I became a leaf catcher”.

On Instagram, the hashtag #12hourwalk is the shared space for participants from all over the globe: Cape Town, Paris, New York, Helsinki, Bermuda, Jakarta, Geneva, and the list goes on.

The reflections shared in the posts are of similar enlightenment: you can learn a lot in a day, faster isn’t always more effective, you are much more capable than you think you are, and reaching any destination simply takes, one step at a time.

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