Sunday, 11 January 2009

Fell Walking for Mental Health

Today's I decided to walk for health more than bird watching so I went up the hill from White Coppice and on towards Heapey Moor. I find walking is good for relaxation. The exercise gets oxygen flowing. I listen to my breath and my feet fall into its rhythms: quick, short steps synchronise with short, shallow breaths. It puts you at one with yourself (body and mind).

The rhythms let words and thoughts flow. I don't hinder them but observe them and let them flow like wind through hair. It's the place where poems and lesson plans begin.

It's also a cathartic place. I recall falling into step with strangers and hearing their life stories as they walk up hills and across the fells. When all is said, I subtly take another path and leave them wondering why they've been induced to say so much to a total stranger. It's not me - it's the exercise that releases the toxins in the mind so we can let them fall away towards any willing ear - and there is a place for that.

However, walking at its best should leave folks refreshed. So when folks find themselves falling into a downward spiral of negative thoughts, I find the most helpful exercise to do is 'grounding'. By that I mean control your thoughts. Instead of concentrating on the negative, listen to your breath, feel the muscles in your calves - and listen some more. Listen out for the scrape of boot on rock, listen for the burbling of streams, the rushes rustling, and pinpoint the direction of bird calls, scan sky and bracken tops for them and revel in the pleasure of being one with the moor.

Top photo is the edge of Heapey Moor by me. Bottom photo is a juvenile stonechat by Richard Spence.

6 comments:

Rhys said...

Carol, I really enjoyed this thoughtful piece you have written about listening. I think it is something to practice whatever we do in life. I've just returned to blogging after a break. I wish you a happy and enjoyable 2009 and hope to read more of your poetry and listen to your thoughts. All the best Rhys

Coastcard said...

How strange that we were both thinking about 'poetry in motion' (my blog, 12 Jan)! The difference is that you were out there 'doing it' while I was just thinking about writing on the hoof!

P.S. I'm wondering whether you or Crafty Green Poet might find a moment to help my friend with an ID for her bird: photo on Coastcard. Thank you very much!

Coastcard said...

P.S. CGP tells me that my mystery bird is a redwing!

Mistlethrush said...

Rhys - Thanks and Happy New Year to you too. Look forward to your next visit. And readers don't forget to visit Rhys and Coastcard's blogs.

Coastcard - yes it's a redwing and CGP would know!

Coastcard said...

Thank you, Mistlethrush, for your help with the redwing. I don't know whether you will get Ruth Padel on Playback: have a feeling there was a copyright reason why the programme could not be on iPlayer ...What talent, though!

Susan Richardson said...

Lovely post, Mistlethrush! I find that walking is fantastic for freeing thoughts and getting a poem moving again if I'm 'blocked' or have reached a sticky place. I also feel very out of sorts if I don't get out of the city to do some coastal or hill walking once a week. I feel like a different, altogether more sane, person by the end of it!

from the field book

from the field book
An inspiring gift for anyone who enjoys watching nature.