My bare feet go flap-flap-flap on the kitchen floor before breakfast. The sound of it rests along the back wall of my attention as I flick my mind over the tasks ahead for this day. And muse about how much nicer it would be to laze on the couch with a book instead. It’s been triple digit weather in Los Angeles for way too long, and such heat wears a body down! But wait—is it just the heat? Or maybe the heat plus my resistance to it. If so, the resistance is extra work my body is doing to express my disagreement with what the universe is currently dishing out.
Paws, Flippers or Hooves?
In the past I’ve paid attention to how my footsteps sound when I’m in good spirits, when I’m mad, when I’m being indecisive. But besides their acoustic expressiveness, my feet relate me to the ground. With every step my feet’s expression translates right up my legs and into my spine. The “flap-flap” links into rounded chest and forward head, and the “thud-thud-thud” (angry steps) translates into tucked tail and stiff hips. Instead of sentient paws, my feet turn into flippers, or into hooves. And the deep postural muscles of my body respond to these poor uses of my feet by soldering things together up above, shutting down my spine’s mobility. It’s like driving with the brakes on.
I’ve spent a lot of time and attention on my body’s upkeep, feet included. I’ve studied the intricate motions of optimal foot use, and I’d say mine function at about 85 per cent. That’s pretty good, and I feel myself lucky with my feet. They never hurt, and I'd like to keep it that way. When I’m walking well the sound is fairly quiet, because the impact of my footfalls is distributed through 33 joints and supported and articulated by over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Hearing My Body's Message
So if the sound of my morning foot shuffling gets through to me, I can change what I’m doing. I can invite my upper body (my “streak”) to un-kink itself, giving my feet enough clearance to land on the whole surface of my heel instead of its back edge. I can press my forefoot down onto the floor with appreciation of the cool sheen of the hardwood. When my feet articulate, the restraint in my hips and spine evaporates.
By letting my feet move—aided, of course, by a more open spine--I breathe easier, and with better oxygenation, my brain finds more options. It will still be a hot day, and I will still wish for a shorter to-do list, but I’ll have a better attitude. Not so flat-footed.
I’m revealing this to you, not because I think my personal pattern is so interesting, but because I hope to inspire you to look for possible subversive postures overlaying your own posture. By noticing your physical expression and tuning in to its message, you gain the option of shifting your physical course, just a little, with possible positive effects all around. Worth a try...?