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HomeWay 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 walk.

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 School.
There's more articles from True Tracks on the Tracker Trail website.