One simple way for me to check in with my “in the moment” level of awareness is to notice my stride. Along with the breath, it’s the quickest and most direct way for me to balance my internal and external awareness.

When I’m rushing and less aware, my stride is too big. My tendency is to hit the ground hard with my heels each time I take a step. When I’m more whole-body-aware my stride is narrower. I am able to roll through my whole foot on each step.

In his Shambhala Sun article “Resting in the River”, Thich Nhat Hanh writes “Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an end and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take…If you are able to walk like that, each step will become very nourishing and healing.”

The connection between my stride and my release of dystonic movement is in the observation of a moment. If I practice observing my stride, or, observing my breath, I am more able to observe the unnecessary gripping of the dystonic clenching on the flute. This unity of body and mind provides the foundation for release. This unity is counter to what dystonic movement can often feel like – a wrestling match between the body and mind.

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