This fall I am going on a hiking adventure. So, in an attempt to get my feet, legs and mind ready, I decided to ditch a public bus connection and hoof the last leg of my work commute. While the origin of this choice was about getting ready for the trip, I found additional benefits I wasn’t expecting. Walking out the last a mile and a half has allowed time to breathe and to move to a different rhythm as I consider the day that lies ahead. What has surprised me is the depth to which it has invited me out of my mind and into my body.
There are elements of life you notice when you take the sidewalk instead of the road. Gardens are detailed rather than a blur of yellow, orange and pink. There are nods of acknowledgment and “good mornings” from strangers never previously encountered. The sensation of a forming blister, the weight of the backpack, the breeze on my neck, all are ways these 4,485 steps bring me into my body.
Facing our day, we start as if we are pedaling up a hill, building up speed to make it to the top and instead of coasting once we hit the peak, we find ourselves keeping the momentum alive until we drop into bed. Our bodies begin and end the day in constant stress. We start, and do not stop and ultimately it impacts our sleep.
In his book Dubliners, James Joyce nails the experience. “Mr. Duffy lives a short distance from his body.” I imagine we have all experienced living a “short distance” from our own bodies. Getting caught in the rush of the day, we can easily miss things which make life rich: the laughter of porch conversation, the creative precision of aged architecture, and the fragrance of the rose.
Our survival plan? To bulldoze our way through stress. When “Nose to the Grindstone” and “Get ‘er Done” become our mantras, bodies do not get the needed break to restore themselves. The nervous system does not slow down to allow the healing Delta waves of sleep to sweep in and heal us. Chronic insomnia kicks in. Sound familiar? It certainly does for me.
This month we will take a look at what happens to our body when stress is unrelenting. We will explore what we can do to heal our body, mind and soul. Grab a journal. Each week I will leave you with a question to consider. Even if you do not write as a general rule, I encourage you to give it a try. Don’t worry about how it “sounds”, or if there are grammar errors, just write.
Here is a question to start the month: In what way do I live a “short distance” from my body?
This week, take a few minutes. Sit down, breath and feel your body. Where are you? Are you in your body? Or a short distance away? Write what comes to you. Until next week…
May you find space to breath,