Seeing is Believing

I observed, and maybe you have as well, that as we age we begin to hunch over, look down and shuffle as we walk. Sometimes it’s a medical issue, but more often it seems like a habit we allowed to creep into our daily lives.

Many believe this is just part of getting old. But I believe it’s really because we lose confidence in our body.

As we age, most of us lose trust in our body’s balance mechanism and rely more on looking at where we are going.

So our head drops down and our shoulders slump more while our eyes scan the ground.

As we continue this habit for a few years, our trust in our body’s ability to support us fades further. That’s when we begin to shuffle. Basically, we’re using our feet to feel  where we are going!

What else happens?

Our view of the world is cut in half. And we shortchange ourselves as a result.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.

Recently while walking out of a store, I looked up at the sky and saw a spectacular rainbow. Just then, two older women walked past me.  I turned to them and said, “Look, how beautiful!”

Both of the ladies were in that phase of looking down at where they were going. They asked, “What is beautiful?” They looked all around, but were so habitually hunched over, they barely looked past eye level.

I pointed up to the sky.

When they forced their heads upwards, it was like a whole new world presented itself to them.

They responded in amazement at the rainbow and the other half of the world they became accustomed to NOT seeing!

It was an eye opening experience for all of us.

A couple of things I noticed:

First, they had to stop walking to look up above the horizon. They didn’t trust their body balance enough to look up and walk at the same time.

Second, when they started walking again, they both immediately began looking at the ground in front of them. Habit.

Without getting too technical,   our bodies rely on 3 mechanisms to keep us upright:

1. Your inner ear (vestibular system)>

2. Your proprioceptive system, which is your body or muscle feedback

3. And your vision, which is a combination of what scientists call binocular vision and shading interpretation.

As we get older some people rely less and less on our body’s feedback and vision input. We become dependent strictly on the inner ear system.

When the inner ear goes, we fall and hurt ourselves and many times our bodies are brittle and break.

I admit, I started looking down while walking too – and I’m only in my 40s!

I don’t want this to become a habit, so now I purposely look up at the horizon or above as I walk. I observed martial arts practitioners do this. Why not give it a try?

We walk every day so putting this simple practice in place is easy!

You will be surprised how often you catch yourself looking down. Trust me.

I also do this while I hike, which was a big challenge because I worried about twisting an ankle by tripping on a rock, hole, or branch.

Instead of looking down, I use my peripheral vision to spot obstacles. I hardly look down.

What this does for me is it gets my body to do what it is supposed to do. That is, to be in control and keep me in balance.

Looking up while you walk not only opens up the whole world to you but it puts trust back into your body’s ability to adjust to the nuances of the environment around you.

Seeing is letting your body believe you are in control.

I hope this Mindful Minute was insightful (please excuse the pun).

What I’d like to know from you is…

How do you ensure you see the world around you and put balance into your life?

Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.  You never know, you may inspire us and others with your insight.

Until next time….

Yours for living gracefully,

letter from Mike