A couple of months ago, I had a beautiful experience. It was incredibly simple, but lately its been popping back into my head again, and I think the reason for that is there were some things I took away from the experience I feel are quite valuable, particularly at this time of year.
I love trail running. There’s something quite amazing about it. It brings out a playful side in me that I love – dodging branches, skipping over rocks, jumping in puddles. And I also find it much more interesting and kinder to my joints than road running.
On a trail run through the Royal National Park a couple of months ago, something quite strange happened. About 500m into my run, I had the urge to stop. Take my shoes off. And walk bare foot for a while. So I followed the urge and ended up walking that way for about 2km.
Now, I’m not suggesting everyone go out in the bush and rip their shoes off, but what that barefoot 2km reminded me of were these three things:
Firstly – Be mindful.
When we’re practicing mindfulness, we’re bringing attention to our experiences in the present moment. On my barefoot adventure I was focused on each foot placement. How the surface felt right there and then. It became an exercise in mindfulness. Instead of looking ahead and planning where my foot would go in four or five steps time, I was just mindful of that present step and how I experienced it.
There is so much planning going on at this time of year, that I think sometimes we forget to just be mindful of the present moment, and how we’re experiencing it. Just be here, now.
Which leads me to Slowing down.
It’s hard to be mindful when you’re rushing around. When you slow down, it’s amazing what can happen. For me that day I was able to be more mindful because I had slowed down…and that actually made everything work better. I moved more efficiently. If I rushed, I’d step on a rock, or stub my toe...so in a weird way, slowing down actually made things faster.
Going a million miles an hour isn’t always the fastest way to get things done. Slow. Down. Give your nervous system a break. Stop and mindfully watch the sunrise. Or just sit for a moment with the sand between your toes. You might find by slowing down for a moment, the Christmas stress and anxiety decreases a little, and your To Do List suddenly doesn’t seem quite so daunting.
Thirdly – and I think most importantly – Connect.
By slowing down and being mindful, I felt more connected. Connected within myself, and also to my surroundings. I felt like I was moving with the terrain, not trying to fight against it. I felt part of a bigger picture. It was peaceful - and we could all do with a little of that!
Connection can come on a lot of different levels. It can be social connection, connection to nature, to ourselves…but we are wired for connection. Our systems love it. And if we take a moment to be mindful and slow down, we give ourselves a chance to truly connect.
So as 2018 draws to a close, lets just slow down for a moment, be mindful, and connect.
Wishing you all a safe, slow, mindful and connected festive season,
Your Barefoot Massage Therapist.