Walking on Stilts and Awareness

One of the things about learning to stilt walk is noticing how much we depend on rolling from the heel to the big toe when we walk. There are other things as well, stilt walking forces us to pay attention to the core of the body, such as the abdominal muscles and the hips. These muscles are what keep us upright and walking normally in every day life. With 2 feet extensions on your feet not only do you have more weight but you have to rely even more on the center of your body to keep up right.

I was struck by how deeply challenging it was to stand up to walk…on a 2″x2″ post that was 2 feet high. “Perhaps I shouldn’t do this, I could crack my butt bone, I’ve hurt my shoulder, I am Robbie’s only parent here”…then onto Robbie, “what if he gets hurt, am I being responsible.” “Alrighty then”, said the instructor and before I knew it we were up.
The first step in learning to stilt walk is getting a sense of the feet underneath the body. From there, we worked on rhythm, stepping our knees up and down and placing the foot squarely down on the ground. Finding a rhythm is essential; a natural stepping rhythm trains the body and mind to move without something to hold onto. I couldn’t help but think of the stroke patients, amputees, and people who had difficulty with walking that I’ve helped over the years, it once again brought it home to me how very brave people are when learning to walk again after an injury. I was also struck by the circus people I’ve met in my life and how compassionate most of them are. The continuous challenge and awareness of their edge provides a deep level of empathy to those brave enough to try.

Robbie and I stepped up and down against the fence finding a rhythm, listening to a reggae beat in the background, and then lifting our knees up very high, and then lifting our legs straight and back, as a way of activating the hips. When I was done with the class, I took the stilts off and walked around. I became aware of my hips and my knees and my body and my feet as if for the first time all over again. I felt my trunk in new ways and my pelvic floor.
Robbie was amazing!
I didn’t do so badly either. 😀
The brain and body need awareness and challenge for it to stay supple and strong as we grow older. Awareness because everyday is literally a new day, for your body as well as the world around you; who we are today is not only different but we have the opportunity to make it better or in a new way. But we can’t change what we are not aware of within ourselves. Awareness of the body can facilitate awareness in the mind and heart.

So in your day, pay attention to your heels or your toes or the middle of your feet…just one place as you walk through your day. What do you notice? And allow for that to settle in. From there accept, change, embrace what you have!

Have a great day, namaste!