Walking – an opportunity to connect

Walking – An opportunity to connect to how our bodies feel

Walking – an opportunity to connect

Walking is something we do all the time, but are we consciously aware of how we walk when we walk? For some, we can walk all day every day with the work that we do, others like to walk as their way of exercising and to stay fit, but are we actually aware of our body and how it feels when we walk? And are we aware that how we walk has an effect on our body?

Walking can be a real opportunity to connect to how we feel within our body, making it more than just an exercise that is good for the body, but something that can deepen our awareness of what we are feeling.

Often when we walk, whether it be for exercise or just going about our daily lives, we can be on a mission, to go somewhere or to get something done in a hurry. At these times, as we focus on ‘what’s to be done’, we can disconnect our mind from our body and thus leave ourselves behind in the rush.

Even when we are out for a walk there can sometimes be a sense of having to get this done, to tick it off our never ending list of ‘things to do’. Equally, if we are consumed with our thoughts as we walk, this too can take us away from actually being connected to how our body is feeling.

As an example, walking when listening to music can easily distract us from truly connecting and feeling how our bodies are in that moment. We get carried away with the beat of the music and then walk with that rhythm, rather than our own natural walking rhythm. By connecting to this 'outer' rhythm we can end up pushing our bodies without even realising it.

How can we walk in a way that is connected to our body?

  • Begin by focusing on your feet, feeling how you place your feet on the ground. Slowly shifting your focus so that you are affectively scanning up the body - make the connection from one part of your body to the next. This can be made while we walk. This way our mind and our body are working as one and there is less chance of being distracted.
  • Observe your breath as you walk: how fast and deep you are breathing, whether or not you are able to breathe through your nose or do you have to breathe through your mouth. Breathing through the mouth is an indication that we are pushing our bodies harder than is needed.
  • You may notice tight, tense or even sore areas. At this point, observe this and walk in a way that is most supportive to how your body is feeling at that time. By observing your body you can adjust and change your walking pace as needed.
  • It can be tempting to push past these feelings we have in our body and often this is what is encouraged as a way of exercising. As we honestly observe our bodies, without any judgement, it then becomes more about what our body needs in that moment.

By walking in this way we can start to feel so much more about what is going on in our bodies. Sometimes this can be rather exposing, revealing a whole range of things about how we have lived on that particular day:

  • We may realise, by feeling tension in our shoulders as we walk that we may have taken on aspects of our day, such as having expectations of ourselves, others or even events or situations.
  • We may also feel all of what our body has felt during the day – especially if there has been a lot of sitting and not a lot of movement.
  • By walking acknowledging what we feel in our body, without judgement, (i.e. that this is either ‘good’ or ‘bad’) there is the opportunity to walk in complete acceptance of who we are – without reservation.

The beautiful thing about walking in this way is that even if we feel that we have taken on the burdens of our day, there is the opportunity to release this. The connection that we have with our body when we walk is the key. If we are distracted this doesn’t happen. Sure, there may be some relief from the day, but the weight of what has been taken on may still be in our body.

Walking, connected to our body, gives us the opportunity to let this go so that we can begin to feel truly confident within our bodies.

Walking is a great way for us to connect to how our bodies are feeling. By learning to observe this without any judgment or distraction, this can provide us with many realisations about how we have been in our day and with this we then have the opportunity to make different choices.

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  • By Jennifer Smith, RN, B Nursing, Spec Cert Pall Care

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