Man and his Soul
According to the Roman philosopher, Seneca: ‘the care of the soul is man’s most important duty, because from the soul issue our thoughts, from the soul our words, from the soul our expressions and indeed our very gait.
Vanda Scara Velli, a yoga teacher, describes in her book, “The Awakening of the Spine’, how we should walk: “Carry your body, but please do not let your body carry you”. Walking in the streets, one can see people heavily following their bodies. Their heads lean forwards, pulled by their necks, on their, on their … insecure legs, their feet scarcely touching the ground. It is evident that they are slaves to their bodies, following the whispering of their chattering minds.’
The way you walk says a lot about you to others, your body language says a lot about the state of your soul. A confident, fearless person who looks forward to the day ahead, walks tall and looks others and the world in the eye. An unsure, fearful person shuffles along, with eyes and mind unfocused, a prey to vague doubts, fears and uncertainty. Walking allows us to get back in touch with our soul – our better self. Mind aerobics is as important as body aerobics. Mind aerobics is all about rediscovering yourself as the magnificent, positive creative person that you know you really are.
If, as some people believe, life is about ‘rediscovering our inner child’ or ‘becoming again as a child’, then walking is the easiest way to get back in touch with this child.
‘On a day when I didn’t have to wear a collar and tie I was a boy again,’ said Alfred Wainwright perhaps the best known walker in Britain. Wainwright knew all about the healing power of getting out on the open road with the sky above him and the wind in his hair. The fastest way to still the mind, relax and get back in touch with your soul is to move the body. Walk, let go and surrender to your own natural rhythms – to the beat of your own heart, the wave of your own breath and the sound of your own inner music. Walking is as natural as breathing. Chuang Tzu, the Chinese teacher, tells us that, ‘The true man breathes with his heels.’ The feet allow us to collect energy from the ground. The alternating rhythmic motion of the arms and legs is similar to the inhalation and exhalation of the lungs when we breathe. Breath control is one way of learning to meditate; another way is to walk. In the early 18th century, Jean Jacques Rousseau, the prophet of the Romantic Movement, had this to say about the meditative effects of walking: ‘My body has to be on the move to set my mind going … I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs.’