The Walk of Attention



While on the subject of walking, let me share with you the Walk of Attention. Its origin has slipped from memory, but here’s how it goes:

You’re on your way to somewhere or nowhere, but what you do is count every step you take with your right foot till your right foot has made 20 steps.

Then you bend your little finger of your right hand inwards. After the next twenty steps, bend the ring finger inward, until you reach your thumb and all fingers and your thumb are bent, so you’ve walked 100 steps.

Then after the next twenty steps, the thumb straightens out; another twenty steps and the index finger straightens out and so on till all the fingers are straight again. When you have completed this stage, bend the thumb of the left hand and simultaneously start bending the fingers of the right hand again, starting with the pinky.  So –  for every 200 steps you take, the left hand bends a digit in and the right hand begins the process again. Once you’ve walked 2000 steps, your left hand and your right hand will both have straight fingers again.

I don’t know what you do after that, because I’ve never reached that stage. The reason for this is that you have to start again from the beginning, (and yes, that does mean the complete beginning, taking the first of twenty steps, all fingers hanging loose and letting go).

You’ll be amazed how quickly the attention wanders. People greet you or ask directions and you lose your place in your counting and skip one or two so back you have to go to the right pinkie.  Or your mind wanders at the sight of something that triggers a memory…

There are life lessons to be learned in this simple and difficult little exercise. Watch your mind and see what it does… does it make excuses to carry on and overlook that particular little ‘glitsch’? Does it faithfully start from the beginning again, freely letting go all that effort that it took to get as far as it did? Do you beat yourself up for slipping? Notice how the action of opening the hand from its tightly clenched position (that was holding all those hard-won steps) can inspire you in your daily life just to let things go, to hold on tightly and let go lightly… It’s also a poignant reminder of how often we can point to this or that incident as being the reason for the stuff-up. ‘If it wasn’t for…’;  ‘Well if only…’

Much can be learned about yourself and your mental and emotional habits.  Enjoy your walk!


P.S. I wouldn’t dream of taking dogs on the Walk of Attention. 


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