If you have ever driven a stick shift car then you've experienced the grinding of gears and jarring motion of shifting at the wrong time. The ability to sense the timing of when to shift is felt through the senses, the sound of the engine, sight on the controls, and touch of the foot to the pedal as well as hands on the stick shift. This timing can perhaps be enhanced thru reading a book for what to look for, or a video telling you other ways to know when yet primarily it has to be experienced and a great teacher is that awful grinding of gears and jarring motion telling us THAT IS THE WRONG TIME. The feel of shifting smoothly is subtle, quiet, and you may not even notice its a standard car your riding in. So here's the question and comparison, does entering into your workweek, or shifting from your dance as a parent/teacher/friend/you name the role feel like a grinding of gears or is it a smooth shift with ease? Let's begin with how you walk....
More than any other movement walking is what we do most throughout the day, and for most of us it's not something we think too much about. Though it's easy to take for granted that walking is just one of those things we learn and never have to re-learn ( for most of us), it's a great practice in noticing many skills that can have a profound effect on all aspects of our life. Walking is the art of "shifting" gears in the bones and joints and a real key into feeling more Joy in the body no matter what we are walking into. It's also a wonderful place to "go" to explore "shifting" in general. How we walk is partly genetic and mostly how we learned from watching those around us. We can change our walk and it all begins with the weight shift.
Waking up to noticing your own walking pattern ( the word for this in physical therapy is pmp or primary movement pattern) is the first step. Notice for example does your walk have a sound? A pace that is common most of the time? What sensations do you feel as you walk ( ie. is there pain? or Pleasure and where ?) Does your walk have a common emotion ( hesitancy, anxiety, a joyfulness, a heaviness?)? What parts of your feet touch the floor first? Do you toe out slightly or in? Are both feet exactly the same in toe direction? Walking is a complex balancing act that effects not only our feet and legs, but our whole body. How do you hold your chest as you walk? Where do your eyes go? This exploration is not to judge it as good or bad, rather its to get accurate feedback from your body so have a starting point. This is also an excellent exercise from a psychological point of view to just get out of a swirling mind as you shift into your workweek, or shift gears into different roles you live in your life.
Take a moment here and dissect the action of taking steps. The very first action is shifting weight of the body to one foot. Shifting may be something that takes practice if you are in a habit of dropping weight and moving fast. Imagine you are emptying one side of your body with sand and gradually pouring it into other foot. Really fill every part of that foot from the bones/muscles/joints and out the toes before going to the other foot. Feel that gradual transition and notice the details of when both sides feel 50-50%. As your attention to detail improves, and your focus develops you'll pick up more detail. It's not "thinking" with the mind, it's sensing in the body using very specific and different parts of the brain.
Walking gracefully is a whole body action that depends on this weight shifting to propel the body forward. The steps our feet take shift the weight into the knees and rocks the hip joints massaging into the spine. This movement is communicated via the connective tissue into the ribs/chest /arms and creates a natural swing in the arms ( when the chest is relaxed and not pushing out or caving in) that helps move the cerebrospinal fluid up to the brain and down again in a wave. This walk also helps all our natural bodys' functions like digestion, respiration, emotions, and concentration. The steps can be grinding gears that cause jarring in the low back, small stiff steps that keep the hips locked, or sensuous shifting steps that feel wonderful with every step. Imagine how your day could be different if every step you were mindful of creating the latter?
Use your body and your walk as a metaphor for how you'd like to be in life. Practice shifting your weight and trust that starting slow and expanding from there will give you more longevity, energy, pleasure and passion for whatever you need to do. Take the time to notice, wake up, and set the tone for shifting into whatever demands come your way.
Please share with me your experience of creating the walk and shifting you desire!