This week the dojo was Kangaroo Island. A 5 day wilderness trail has just been opened and as I was in Adelaide it seemed too good an opporunity to miss.
I gave some thought to how I wanted to approach the walk. What I wanted to do was to walk comfortably on a long-term – several days basis.
This means without excess effort, taking the ease of walking into account more than the time I took or the number of clicks I had done in the last hour or how many steps or my heart rate or the numerous external measures we often use to gauge our progress.
Ease, comfort and pleasure are internal feelings that tell us how efficiently we are walking. Effort is a sign we are walking poorly.
Taking frequent breaks was also a priority.
Is all this necessary? No of course not. That would just be another srategy to add to the maany layers of rules we have about living our life and achieving ends at any cost. And life is too compliated for a fixed set of rules.
But if and when we do need to go fast and achieve goals and are limited by time it makes sense to perform actions as efficiently as possible.
One tip is to spread the load over more of ourself. We are made so every part of us is involved in a particular movement. Whenever a heel touches the ground the whole muscular-skeletal system adapts to the information to allow the ground to move us forward.
So how did it go?
First of all, no falls, no injuries, no stiffness. Plenty of tiredness at the end of the day though on days two and three. The last hour was tough. Why? I’m not sure. Not enough breaks, ignoring signs to rest. Yes ignoring obvious information that I was doing too much, trying too hard, pushing when I didn’t need to, the whole nine yards. I got to the camp sites with plenty of time before sunset so I could have done it more easily, paid more attention to myself, been kinder to myself, smelled the roses more. I noticed that as the trail signs did not indicate how far to go, I got anxious and wondered whether I was ‘on time’. I don’t have a watch or a pedometer and have no idea what ‘on time’ might mean but it did drive me a little.
All this came together over the last couple of days. I noticed I was moving more smoothly, with less effort, much more pleasure in the moment, noticing wild flowers and changing terrain and landscape, and accessed readier ability to be aware without special effort of my moving through an environment; i.e inside and outside, accommodate to the terrain and move for the pleasure of it. I arrived a the camp site feeling fresh and knowing I could have gone with no special effort. My senses were coming alive too. My mind usually has a life of its own. It’s not a problem, it’s how minds are supposed to be – thinking – but there are and I have other ways of being. So I spent some time walking and listening, and some time each day walking as a prayer of gratitude to the Earth; at every step the planet moves us along, selfless service with no need for recognition, thanks or approval, no need for reward or appreciation.
I was less driven by the distinction between fast and slow (according to which fast means good and slow means bad, pushing the boundaries means good and living within my current comfort zone means bad). Fast and slow both came and went without any need at all to choose them or plan them.