Been feeling very down this past week, lethargic and sad and anxious about what to do next. Brexit worries me and this week Yoga and mindfulness not really helped. So today, a beautiful sunny clear and crisp February day, after a week of cold, damp, dingy, grey weather, I took myself out for a walk on the forest. Sometimes when depression takes over it is the hardest thing to do especially when my life has little structure at the moment and I am having to discipline myself to be positive. I felt exhausted sometimes that is a struggle and behind it all lies many shoulds and even walking can be a should. Thankfully it is in my blood in my intuition; I know it will shift my mood even when I am unwell and this is a want. a desire, not a should. It did and I realise what I was beginning to think was some serious illness was lack of oxygen and I needed to move but outside; yoga was not cutting the mustard.
Walking is wonderful, it costs nothing, there are no sweaty changing rooms to contend with. No one competing with me. Some days though I do compete with myself, give myself targets and time goals but today I just decided to walk mindfully; listening to the birds, dogs, wind in the trees, soaking up the golden rays of the sun, putting one foot down after another in my new walking boots; what a difference.
Walking is wonderful; to be out in nature, to jumble up my thoughts, let them go with each step and then re collate them in to some more positive and creative ideas; solving my ghost issue in a play I wrote. Walking is essential to me as a writer and I feel blessed that I can walk; blessed that I have access to such beautiful countryside, nature and paths both here in the UK and of course on Ithaca.
I love walking for the solitude but equally I love to walk with my partner, sometimes talking sometimes in silence. I love to walk with other people in groups; it’s a great way to get to know a place, to share a place, to hear and share stories and hear the poetry of a landscape and the truth of nature and of course, as many of you know, as I am from Yorkshire, a walk has no better ending than a beer in a local pub or traditional Taverna or local store.
Today though a cup of herbal tea did the trick.
Take yourself for a walk, anywhere, even to the shops. Focus on the rolling of your feet, your in breath as your spine straightens from your tail bone and your neck and the out breath draw the navel to spine in slightly and try and feel the top of your ham strings drawing together. Notice your in breath and out breath; with each step take a breath and imagine yourself like in Crouching Dragon Hidden Tiger, flying between planets. This helps particularly if you feel tired and walking uphill. Be aware of your neck and chin try to relax it slightly back as you walk rather than jutting it forward. Breath in through your nose out thorough your mouth or nose. Then let all that go and hear and listen to sounds around you. Have a shoulder shrug or two, throw your arms out wide, throw your arms up above your head and down and enjoy the sheer pleasure of your feet on the ground moving your body through air. When you finish sit on a bench, or under a tree, or when you come home, and take a notebook and pen or pencil and write for ten minutes on Walking. Remember don’t read it, don’t stop writing, keep breathing, and don’t worry about style, spelling, grammar, logic; it can be whatever you want. Don’t think or plan just write starting with the words: I walk because:
I walk because I love
I love because I am human
I am human because I love and feel pain
I am alone here but in the company of many
on ancient footpaths where people have walked and worked before me
I walk to feel the sun on my shoulders and in my throat
and I cry because I forgot to walk
I may as well have forgotten to breathe
as some days I do
I walk because I like you, I like walking with you
I walk because I love to
I love because I walk with you even when I am without you
I walk because words come from the air and earth
I walk because here I am mindful, here my thoughts can be themselves and I can welcome all my feelings; friend and foe
I walk because it is imprinted in my soul to do so and even on a concrete path, walking to a shop to buy beetroot, I am in the fells of Yorkshire, mountains of Scotland, tracks and olive groves of Ithaca and I am on the red earth of Africa where I have never walked
and some days I can hear the curlew and the sound of the sea above the traffic and I can hear voices of the earth telling me to return home;I am home
I walk because it makes my feet smile, my legs laugh and my heart leap again and I walk because it is the most beautiful thing to do for me, how does it feel for you?