“Try to walk so slowly that you feel each piece of grass on the bottom of your foot.” That is what my friend Michael Apollo told me. He was teaching me a walking meditation.
I was 29 and feeling overwhelmed with work and life and had come to know Michael through a local health and wellness clinic. He taught some group mindfulness classes which I enjoyed so I decided to see if I could learn more 1:1. As someone who was always active, this was a new way to bring some calm into my life.
We were hanging out in a park near a busy street in Toronto. There was construction nearby, and I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. In my mind, I felt anxious. “How can I concentrate with the construction noise? Is this going to work? Why can’t those people walking by be quiet? We should have chosen a quieter place.”
We carved out a 20-foot walking path in the grass where my bare feet could get acquainted again with the grass and nature. Michael asked me to walk slowly. I walked a quarter of my normal casual walking speed. He told me to “walk 10 times slower. Slowly lift your foot off the ground, keeping contact with heel, midfoot, palm of the foot and toes, as long as possible. Focus three feet in front of you.”
By keeping me focused on one single task and moving methodically, and slowly, he was slowing me down. My breath naturally followed.
Soon my world and distraction moved from a noisy and disruptive 360-degree view whipsawing me around to a twenty-foot grass track in front of me. Then from 20 feet down to a focused three feet. The noise washed away like water off a ducks back. I was focused on feeling nature and my own breath.
Twenty minutes later Michael pulled me out from my simpler world to my regular world with a new filter and skill set.
He was helping me build the scaffolding of mindfulness.
No action here today other than provoking a different way of thinking about Angst and anxiousness.
In this three-part series over the next two weeks, I will share with you some strategies on reducing Angst and building the scaffolding of Calm.
Before you head back to your next task…BREATHE.
Take 4 deep breaths in and 4 deep breaths out.