It's not a rigorous walk. It's just a routine walk that starts at my front door, lasts about fifteen minutes, takes me around the same set of blocks every day, and reminds me of the world beyond myself.
It's a brief period of time that I deeply value and yet, on many days, I barely notice it.
When I came home last month after spending over two weeks in the hospital (If you don't know, my appendix ruptured and I had to have a pretty major abdominal surgery at the end of August!), walking was the one activity that came with no restrictions. I was encouraged to walk as much as possible every day.
In the hospital, on the days I pushed my IV pole around the hospital halls for four or even five walks a day, the nurses called me an overachiever. I might have called it wanting to get better, restless, and just plain sick of being in bed.
A walk outside sounded like a luxury.
In reality, my first walk from my front door was pitiful. Most noticeable to me then was the way my mom, who was there with me and very patient, had to keep adjusting her pace so she didn't get ahead of me.
I had to think about every step. I had to think about how to take a deeper breath. And I had to double-think about how to do either of those things and simultaneously notice anything about the buildings and trees I was walking by.
I cut my usual route short on that first walk. And when I got back home, I got in bed and took a two hour nap.
Many walks and many naps later, walking is easy again. I've even starting running again as well.
But even though I can walk without thinking, I find that I don't want to. Maybe it's weird, but I want to walk more slowly and notice more about every piece of it.
In Awareness Through Movement lessons, we talk a lot about the information that the floor or ground offers about how we hold, and organize, and use ourselves. We often focus on this sort of attention in stillness, lying on the floor to really cultivate that kinesthetic sensitivity, but it becomes useful to bring that sensitivity and awareness into these simple activities also.
Now, I have these questions are shuffling through my head as I'm walking or running.
What do I notice about the ground, this surface that I'm walking on, through the contact of my feet?
What does the left foot notice differently than the right? The right differently than the left?
What information does the ground provide about me in this moment?
What do the ground and the contact of my feet against the ground tell me about how I'm organizing myself to create this pattern of walking?
Is this pattern of walking enjoyable? Is it easy? Is there anything I want to change?
What I like most about this questioning and curiosity in action is that my walks don't slip by without me noticing them anymore. And going for a run is a space of constant learning.