There have been a couple of times in my life where I have felt as if I slipped into a different zone; not a drug-induced one, but naturally, while out in nature. Today, while not quite like the other couple of times in the past, I felt compelled to go for a walk in the country park adjacent to where I live, following a great EFT session with a lady called Sharon King (more of which in a later blog).
I'd had an impression in my mind of walking in a specific part of this park: not out in the open fields where I normally go, but along the path that runs through the woods, with tall trees on both sides. And as soon as I entered this area, I then felt drawn to stopping by a wooden bench and doing some of the simple twists and stretches I’d gotten used to doing while at The Hill That Breathes retreat in July (see previous blog). Twisting my spine in both directions and letting my arms flop by my sides, then leaning right, and then left, followed by what they call a ‘roll down’ in pilates (where you drop your chin to your chest and then roll down slowly until your arms are flopping to the floor), I then stretched out my rather tight quads and hamstrings. And then, in this fairly quiet spot in the woods, with no one else around, I adopted the first chi gung pose John taught us – standing with feet hip-width apart, pelvis tucked slightly under so the spine is straight, shoulders back but relaxed, and arms help very slightly away from the body and elbows also very slightly bent, looking like you’re a cowboy about to go for his guns. This position allows the chi – energy – to better circulate around the body. I varied the posture too, bringing my arms up as if cradling a large beach ball. And it was while standing like that that my mind, or my awareness, seemed to shift and my body no longer felt the same, as if it were not really a part of me. It’s very hard to describe exactly how it felt, but it was as if I was so very comfortable in this standing position, and could have stayed like that for ages, with my eyes softly focusing on the tree in font of me, which was on the other side of the path. I felt so still and calm, yet alive. I then became aware of my heart beating in my chest, and how the quality of that felt different to usual; normally it feels like its pounding up against a steel wall or something, but now it felt softer, more fluid, I want to say ‘slippery’ almost, but then I’m aware that in Chinese medicine, to have a slippery pulse is not a good thing. But anyway, it was just a different quality of beating, somehow. And then, in that quiet space, I looked to my left and saw what I first thought was a skinny dog approacing, but then realised it was a deer crossing the path - how incredible! I've never seen deer before in the woods (though obviously they must live there) and I took it as a testament to my stillness that the deer had not noticed me and felt comfortable enough to show itself.
I didn’t stay standing like that for too long, though, as I was also aware that at any moment someone might come walking along with their dog, and I would feel embarrassed to be caught out standing like a statue on my own!
And so I walked on and found myself being drawn to want to walk off the path and into the trees. There, I felt more comfortable standing in the chi gung stances, being aware of my body, feeling it making subtle changes to its posture – a little move of the foot here, a straightening of the knees or tilting of the hips there – so as to be most comfortable and relaxed. And again, I stood and just observed what was around me. With soft focus, I gazed at the trees, and listened to the surrounding sounds of dogs barking, children screaming as they whizzed past on bikes, people talking in the distance, an ambulance siren, the birds twittering. I felt so incredibly calm and still.
When I emerged from the trees, I carried on along the path until I came to the end, where it splits off in three other directions into the woods. With no one else around, I did some more gentle stretches, mainly involving the spine, and then started my walk back. And that was when I noticed another ‘shift’ in consciousness; now, I was acutely aware of everything around me, including in my peripheral vision. It was as if I was taking everything in: the sounds – the sights, the smells – and my walking pace had slowed right down. In fact, I don’t think I have ever walked like that in my entire life. My joints felt loose, relaxed, flowing. Each step felt light; in fact, it was as if my body was actually supported from something above, and my legs were just circling round, with my feet lightly touching on the ground each time they reached the bottom of a cycle. I know this might sounds bit daft, and you might wonder whether I had taken any mind-altering substances prior to this walk, but I assure you I had not. It was the most easy, smooth, relaxed walk I’ve ever had! It’s hard to describe why it was so different to usual, but it was; my whole body felt relaxed, my arms hung down gently, and the muscles in my legs, while they obviously were working, felt soft; it was just no effort at all, I was walking for the sake of walking, not to get anywhere or do anything.
I then became aware of a small clump of leaves in a tree to my left, moving too fast for it to be the wind, and as I got closer I could see there was a squirrel right there in the branches. It did not seem to be too bothered about me being there, within a few metres, as I think I was so calm and quiet I had not disturbed it. In my normal state, I march along, like a woman on a mission, expending a great deal of energy in my legs and with my mind lost in thought that I don’t always pay attention to what is around me; normally, I would have missed the delight of watching this reddish grey squirrel scampering up and down the branches.
All the time my mind was desperately trying to come back on line and take me out of the ‘now’ and into a train of repetive, useless thoughts – even ones thinking about just how I would describe that experience when writing on this blog! – and as soon as my mind did get distracted, I realised I was not paying close attention to my environment anymore, and suddenly felt surprised when a man appeared on a bench to my left, who I would have noticed sooner had I been fully in the ‘now’ and noticing things.
By the time I reached the end of the wooded path, my altered state of consciousness, or whatever it was, had worn off a bit, but I managed to maintain the slow, gentle, relaxed walking pace all the way home, where I laid down on the sofa and drifted off into a semi-conscious sleep for about 20 minutes. It’s hard to accurately describe just what ‘happened’ in the park, as it was not an external event; nothing to do with the trees, or the weather or anything like that, but to do with inside of me, my perceptions and awareness. Having read about this type of thing for so long in books, perhaps finally I am starting to have glimpse of that more enlightened state of being that people so often try to attain. I’ve had two other instances in my adult life similar to this, which no doubt I’ll write about another time, but the thing is this: you can’t go looking for this feeling, it just happens. I did not go into the park with the intention of experiencing a new awareness or higher state of consciousness, I just followed where my intuition was leading me and did as my body guided me to do. But this chi gung stuff – I’ll certainly be doing it more often now; seems like it’s just the right way to get me out of my head and more into my body.
What Katy Louise Did...
- Katy Louise
- Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.