Usually when I walk around town or on the bike path with a friend we end up talking. Except for that one and only occasion when we ended up two miles out and had the joy of walking back in a popup Ohio summer downpour.
My friend coached me that summer, walking further, moving faster, and choosing the hilly routes. I definitely moved quickly on the trip back to the cars, completely soaked by the end.
Of course the rain stopped as soon as we reached our cars. Following the outburst of laughter that felt like an appropriate response to our situation, I realized that along the way I had noticed several things.
Since the day was warm, the rain felt refreshing cascading down my face, making wearing glasses completely worthless, so I carried them in my hand. A deep puddle covered a part of the path. The only option was to step into it. I felt water squish into the spongy insole as it covered the top of my shoes, flowing inside. Water sloshed inside my shoe with every step, massaging my toes. It felt like walking on wet sponges.
I remembered that sensation from a time I hiked up a sand dune near the ocean on another summer day many years ago. Of course the concept for that summer trip of my youth meant exploring our surroundings, and we decided to hike further along the dunes. Losing track of time as we walked and talked, suddenly we were greeted with a popup California summer downpour. I remember the hike on the sand back to the ocean lasted for hours, water sloshing inside my shoes with every step, sheets of rain creating a blurry landscape in the days before I wore glasses.
In both places, the difficulty seeing, combined with the desire to quickly get back to where we started, produced anxiety. When I chose to focus on the unique sensation of water moving against my feet inside my shoes, my anxiety lessened.
Set a timer for one minute.
- Explore the sensations in your feet and toes as you move them inside your shoes while sitting or standing.
- When walking feel the toes spread to meet the ground as you roll through the step. Feel the toes push off as the foot lifts.
- Barefoot, feel different textures as you walk in sand, grass, water.
Recall these sensations the next time you feel anxious.
Notice what happens.