For anyone who doesn’t know, I live in Illinois. It gets cold in Illinois. Very cold. Not as cold for as long as in Minnesota or Siberia, but cold enough to affect the time I spend outside.
Monday I walked to the Y to teach my 9am class. While not as cold as it could be (it was just around 23 degrees Fahrenheit), the wind was blowing and making valiant attempts to sneak into any gap I may have innocently left available.
Living within walking distance of one of my teaching venues gives me generous opportunities to walk frequently – in warmer weather.
I don’t walk to walk. I walk when we get snowed in. I walk when I’m not ready in time to shovel snow to get my car out. I walk when winter gets too long. I walk when I feel closed in. I walk because I need to be outside. I learn something about my body and about my relationship with nature every time I walk.
I am on an extended 15+year journey of healing with my right hip (as some of you may know). After class, walking further than to the car tends to get very painful very quickly. I don’t have hip joint issues. I have hip soft tissue issues. I get all warm, mobile, and flexible during class. Then I stop to gather my stuff and the result is tight, stiff, painful muscles that strenuously object to the idea of lengthening to walk.
All the days I’ve walked to and from the Y and I had yet to uncover a way to release the pain. Until Monday.
I discovered that if I “led” my right leg forward swing from my adductors, the pain softened and disappeared. When I use the word “led” I do so with a whisper of imagination. As I walked my experiment, I played with truly leading with my inner thigh muscles and discovered that it created turn out or external rotation in my hip joint that increased pain and disrupted alignment. Therefore the “lead” was my mind chatting with my mind about it, rather than my body actually creating outward change.
I have to admit that I did spend most of the walk admiring the subtlety of this revelation. It took sustained focus and a delicate “touch” from my mind.
The focus was worth it. Not only could I walk with almost no pain at all, but my hip joint moved easily. The last time my hip joint moved that freely was after a Feldenkrais Functional Integration session.
This experience reinforced not only the power of the mind-body connection, but more specifically the value of honing the skills of awareness.