I’m Walking Here

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on March 27, 2020 in Uncategorized

Thankfully, we in Seattle are still allowed to walk outdoors under current government guidelines, as long as we maintain physical distancing from non-household members. Walking is my primary and preferred transport mode at all times. Currently, walking has become a coping strategy, data collection mode, and a rhythmic procedure for overall balance.

Coping strategy:

These are anxious times. We have a combination of deepening uncertainty and a flood of information. Our familiar means of coping are either unavailable or drastically changed. In order to protect our communities, we have to physically disconnect from community. Remaining mostly at home day and night, either alone or with family members or roommates, rattles our habitual rhythm of independence and interaction.

I don’t walk to suppress, repress or deny anxiety. If I wasn’t anxious, there would be something very wrong with me. I walk to allow anxiety to both exist and move through me. While walking, I notice sensations that I label “anxiety”: furrowed brow, tight jaw, whirling and repetitive thoughts. Good, I have noticed my state of being, and now I can make choices.

While walking , instead of struggling to quiet anxiety (which has every reason to exist), I can ask to change my attention, and to allow a dynamic pause before I tighten further. I ask to attend to the scenery, cloud banks, tulips, birdsongs. I haven’t pushed anxiety down, I have lifted attention up and out. It’s a dynamic pause in motion.

Data collection:

Walking provides information on how I am doing what I am doing. What i want is a unified field of self, a balance of tone that moves me through all aspects of living. If my walk seems to do itself, as though the earth’s rotation rolls me easily along, then my overall condition of self feels easier. If I experience the walk as a trudge or a march, the furrowed brow/tight jaw/ noisy mind combo is back in accelerated business. It all comes as a package deal. Once I notice my experience, I can make choices (where is the ground, where is my attention, how much less can I do/fix/be right?) and observe how the experience changes. Useful data!

Ideal rhythmic procedure:

Many Alexander procedures (chair work, table work, prone, hands-on the back of the chair) happen in the quiet of the teacher’s studio, without much actual distance covered in the course of a lesson. (There may be a lot of distance covered in perceptions, experience and insights, however ). The rhythm of breath and the unified connection of thinking with the entire self can underpin all activities. Walking provides an actual rhythm, in which we can experience relief and delight, even and especially in these strange and trying times.