Now that we are being blessed with sun, I’ve been on a few long walks on the South Downs again. It’s wonderful to see how many shades of green there are in the natural world. It’s also giving me the opportunity to hone my skills of applying
Alexander directions to walking. Here are some that I’m enjoying playing with. Maybe you will, too. To start off with, of course I’m thinking about the whole of my body being connected, from my feet to the top of my head and beyond.
I’m finding it useful to think about extending down into the ground beneath me and into the air above me; this makes me feel more integrated within myself and more connected to my environment. I’m also playing with the idea of the ground rising to meet me and giving me a little impulse to lengthen. This gives me energy and makes the whole experience so much easier and more enjoyable.
When going uphill – and there are plenty of steep slopes on the Downs – thinking of keeping my spine long and my head (not face) leading is a must. It’s so easy to pull the head back and down or go into tortoise mode on the uphill. I’m also finding that leading with the front side of my thumbs is a useful direction for getting me uphill and giving me momentum.
Playing around with walking backwards is great fun. There’s lots to be
discovered and experienced afresh by just changing our front-focussed habits.
And if the weather is right, walking barefoot even only for a very short distance can open up the senses, not to mention the feet, which are so usually enclosed in restricting shoes and boots. Noticing walking rhythm is also interesting.
And does one leg get more weight than the other? There’s so much to be observed in this everyday act of walking. And then we can start to notice how our body and mind interact with our environment: how we subtly adapt to changing terrain underfoot;
how we can direct our awareness to the world around us – its sights, sounds, scents, textures, temperatures, movements; and how then we can gradually come to calm, quieten the inner voices, turn off the analytical mind, and just blissfully be.