Resting and Digesting Through Walking

I have just completed a long string of workshops that were very close together. All of them were workshops that inspire me – where the best of who I am got to shine. However, after being focused for so long a time in a leadership role, the result is that I have needed (and chosen to) explore slowing down and ‘walking my talk’ – literally.

This morning I bundled up and hit the trails behind my house. What I wanted to explore was how paying close attention to the sensations in my feet and legs would effect my energy level as I walked. This is a practice I come back to regularly, but today in particular I was starting out a little tired, so I was curious about the energizing part of my experiment. What I found was surprising and reassuring.

Initially, as I walked on the asphalt path I was feeling for the exact pattern of my foot fall – heel striking the pavement, rolling across the arch, and then the sensation of the spreading of the ball of my foot as it met my toes. It was fascinating to notice how quickly I slipped into a rhythmic pattern in my movements because the asphalt path was uniform. And yet, even in it’s sameness I noticed that as I brought my awareness to my feet as I walked, I was connecting more consciously with the ground and it felt energizing even though I was physically expending energy to walk.

As I left the asphalt and turned onto the forest path there was a lot more diversity under my feet to sense. The softness of the forest floor felt like a firm cushion, semi-cradling my feet as I walked. It felt welcoming. When I would roll across a large quartz formation jutting out through the leaves, my whole foot and ankle would roll to meet it. The wood chips provided a diverse surface to respond to moment to moment. The leaves crunched and acorn caps snapped as I stepped on them. This was even more energizing, even though it took even more awareness on my part to track the forest floor shifts as I got to them.

As my walk continued , my breathing got deep and regular, and found myself feeling more and more energized – it was surprising and delightful. I highly recommend playing with this as you walk this weekend. And please do get out and walk. It is supposed to be a sunny, relatively mild weekend here in the DC area. But no matter where you are, being out in nature is energizing if you turn on your receptors for energy and joy.

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