We are excited to announce our newest teaching. This dance-like, wellness modality is grounded in linking the rhythms of walking and breathing together. In-breath and out-breath, with stepping.
The ground, Planet Earth, is the natural place on which our left and right feet make a rhythmical, loving song. Our in-breath and out-breath create an accompanying, flowing, rhythmical pattern which we can choose to shape in many ways.
Let’s begin the adventure.
Of course, when we walk, we must breathe.
The first step in going from “just walking” is to notice the natural relationship between the two actions. Where the steps fall, in relation to where inhale and exhale happen.
From here, our experience can be shaped by being aware of the patterns we may already be making. Thinking in approximations — do we inhale with one, two steps or three? Exhale with two, three or more?
Many experience, for example, that our exhale is consistently longer than our inhale.
We teach that when we consciously experience the simple movement of walking with our inhale and exhale, as a integrated relationship — we are brought powerfully Home to the Body. To the joys of being alive. While we engage with this practice of walking and breathing, we can become more awake and can feel Life as a Joyous Dance. A place where freedom and creativity flourish.
We can also use the practice to look deeply within ourselves. We can have useful insights. We can transform difficult emotions such as fear and anger. We can build inner strength and resiliency. We can grow and nurture Peace within. We can heal.
The simple, rhythmic form we teach is not rigid, but in itself flexible and fluid. With lots of opportunity for improvisation.
We teach a Two-stepping on inhale technique. Two steps with in-breath and two, four, six or eight (or more) with out-breath. Always coming back to the same leading foot, left or right with next in-breath. A Two-stepping Dance.
How might the two-step form be natural us?
We propose that taking two steps could be understood and felt as the simplest of holistic walking movement. Two steps makes one full, natural movement forward. One step, the movement of only one foot, gets us only half-way to the next place. Perhaps, two stepping is how we first learned to walk.
The method we teach begins with the notion that a Two step/in-breathe is the core, the repeated pattern; the “home-based”, if you will. We might regard the first form which naturally arises as two steps/in-breath and two steps/out-breath (4).
And the second form which naturally arises may be: two steps/in-breath and two steps/out-breath and once again…. two out. (6). This six-stepping form could be understood as an expression of the lub-dub rest (three pulse) of heart beat, in flow pattern. We could call this flowing 6 form– “Heart Walk”.
Beyond these two forms we described, the 2 form core is quite alive in any length of outbreath. The out-breath as six, eight and more steps could be felt as a series of stacked two’s. Counting out-breath steps drops away, as we return with ease to the same leading foot, with our next in-breath of two steps. The result is that we are always walking even numbers.
The creative power and freedom of this dance form first resides in the tempo with which we walk and breathe, and also in the length of our strides.. With our exhale at any length all the time, we, in effect, surrender authority over to the body. And to use a term coined by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh– “We follow the lungs”.
In addition, we can choose to add-in verbal affirmations, short prayers, mantras or mantrams. With our two-stepping inhale dedicated to breathing only, we interweave words into the exhale, silently in head: this “super-power” enhances the beneficial effects.
With the 2in-2out form, we might “say” in our heads the words — peace peace, as we place our left and right feet down, on the exhale. In our exhale we have the same word/same sound on each footfall. In this form, we are coming back to left foot leading, with our silent inhale.
Whether Walk Breathe Two-Step with focused, singular intent is our choice. Some of us may prefer this kind of focused silence and being alone, or we may choose to walk with a friend. With or without conversing. Some may prefer to listen to a favorite music or talking blog. It all can be integrated. The rhythms and sounds of whatever comes to our ears can be interwoven with the simple 2-form of walking and breathing.
As for the best place? In Nature, on a city sidewalk, shopping in a store, walking from your home to the bus or to your car, distance walking? It is quite possible to walk 2in/2 out while walking up a hill. Simply shorten your strides. In all environments and situations, there can be an invitation to practice.
Whatever our choices may be, there is some flavor of unique experience. See for yourself what you prefer. Experiment. Stay open to what your body may be saying to you. Allow your emotions to rise to the surface. Listen to your intuitive knowing. Be spontaneous. Trust your body.
The Walk & Breathe Two-step teaching is a powerful addition to any Group Empowerment Rhythm Program. Rhythm-making with body beats, voices and/or drums establishes a natural form of call & response conversation, grounded in a simple two-pulse. Bringing that balanced, relational feeling of two-pulse to walking and to breathing in two-step is most effective. The teaching goes deep, planting seeds for the flourishing of the practice.
Acknowledgements & Resources
The Walk & Breathe two-step method has been through many transformations, since we first set out on this walking-breathing adventure in the spring of 2017. We wish to thank all the students who attended our workshops and all the helpful folk–whose in-the-field practice and feedback contributed to the shaping of it.
We are indebted to, and wish to thank, the following masters of breathwork, of breathing and walking, and of Mindfulness Practice–their books and all their teachings have been invaluable.
* Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life by Dan Brule
* Breathwalk: Breathing Your Way to a Revitalized Body by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa
* How to Walk by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
* The Global Community – Plum Village ~ Founded by Thich Nhat Hanh http://www.plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/
In addition, for their behind-the-scenes help with forwarding and shaping our thinking we wish to thank:
Dr. James Nicolai (endorsed by Dr. Andrew Weil); for his demonstrating the “Breathwalk” technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGkHVEnpVoY
Dr. Herbert Benson, Relaxation Response https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=47&v=nBCsFuoFRp8&feature=emb_title
Dr. Jill E. Bormann, “Mantram Repetition Program” https://www.jillbormann.com/
Diana Shimkus, LCSW; Founding Teacher ~ Everyday Mindfulness http://www.everydaymind.com/home-1