Way of the Scout
Walk Softly on the Earth
by Peter Yencken
How can movement affect your life? The way we move today, especially the heel
down, straight legged, ground pounding walk, damages joints and empties our
checkbooks through expensive cushioned shoes and visits to the chiropractor. It
compounds the stress already inherent in our day-to-day life, reduces the number
of animals we see in the woods, and damages mother earth.
The simple act of practicing the walking patterns taught in the Standard and
Back-to-Back classes can teach us how to slow down, relax, and enjoy our
surroundings. These patterns of walking have evolved over thousands of years to
allow primitive man to move within the rhythms of nature, to hunt and travel
over large distances with the greatest of ease and efficiency.
What will these walking patterns do for your life? They will allow you to
walk more gently and efficiently, and minimize the pounding and degeneration of
your knees, back and neck. This will help your body to be more relaxed and
efficient. A relaxed body uses less energy, conserving that energy for other
uses. In addition, you will have much less reliance on modern shoes since you
will not need as much cushioning. In fact, you will want shoes that are loose
fitting, with no heel, and as thin a sole as possible. You may also find that
walking barefoot will be more funa and less painful (I encourage you to go
barefoot as much as possible). I also plead with you to let your children go
barefooted as much as possible. If shoes must be worn, soft moccassins are best.
Encourage them to walk softly, and they will naturally pick up the primitive
In times of stress when life gets crazy, whether it be at work or home, or
when life is too rushed to meditate, use the fox walk and wide-angle vision to
help you relax. You can practice this anywhere. It may take longer to get where
you are going, but you will arrive calm and ready of action. Going barefoot on
the grass at lunch time will completely rejuvenate you. Walking meditation is
practiced by many cultures; the Chinese for example, practice Tai Chi Chuan.
Adding the weasel walk to your daily exercise plan is another way to improve
your well being. A morning routine that includes ten to fifteen minutes of
stalking practice will start the day in a very positive way, not to mention the
added benefit when you go into the woods.
The beauty of walking softly is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime,
provided you do not mind an occasional funny look. It also brings the wilderness
into your everyday life. It is refreshing and energizing in times of stress, and
benefits mother earth by walking gently upon her.
HINT: If you wish to feel how harsh your modern walk is, wear some leg
weights and walk normally in them. Then try a primitive walk. Wear ear plugs and
you will notice an even more dramatic effect. Remember, though, that leg weights
are not good for you if you walk normally because they compound the shock
problem to your legs and back.
From True Tracks, Fall-Winter 1994, published by the Tracker
There's more articles from True Tracks on the