Walking presupposes thatat every step the world changes in some aspect and also that something changes in us
Italo Calvino – Collection of Sand
It happens … a moment of fatigue, one of the “dark nights of the soul” that we can all meet during our existence. Then it comes the opportunity to participate in a journey that offers a different perspective from which to see life, a journey that helps to “heal”.
What changes in our body and mind when we walk?
If it is easier to understand mechanisms that lead to physical well-being, we must use Neurosciences to understand why, when we walk and especially when we walk in nature, we perceive a sense of peace, serenity, lightness and bliss.
When our ancestors left Africa some 70000 years ago they started the “journey” of human history. This wandering allowed them to explore, learn and experience new situations, new ways, new realities, new sounds and develop the language.
It is thanks to walking that Homo Erectus has become Homo Sapiens, a creative man.
When we walk, at a slow pace, in silence, in solitude and in contact with nature, we reopen the archives of memory in which this experience is been deposited, we retrace a simple gesture, disconnected from the ego and we redo the experience in which time expands and in which we feel a continuity between us and the whole. Our two cerebral hemispheres come into play. the planner, the manager, who builds our image and our “business card” separating us from the other, which on this occasion leaves space and gives voice to the left one, creative artistic, playful, meditative, which connects us with the deepest part of ourselves and then with what surrounds us.
Walking our cerebral hemispheres find an agreement, they communicate with each other in a constructive way until the rational filters are broken down.
Then “the I becomes WE”.
Walking is an ancestral, simple, humble act, a gesture that roots us on the ground but then pushes us towards the sky, making us experience how we can be “light”.
This state of bliss and pleasure stimulates, in our body, the production of happiness hormones, endorphins, which have a beneficial function for our psychophysical health and the more endorphins we produce, the more we want to walk.
And if we walk next to our like?
And if our traveling companion is completely or partially deprived of a sensory channel, for example the sight?
And if the journey proceeds in the company of two donkeys?
What happens to our mind? What emotions and feelings do we feel?
Walking represents a possible moment of encounter, socialization and sharing, but a “Yellow” journey like this has been something more. In the group of walkers there were sighted, visually impaired and other people with total blindness, but we did not feel any difference because we were all
We were so because what we communicated between us happened through channels other than the visual one. In a historical moment in which one’s image is of dominant importance, where what matters is appearance, being able to live an experience that totally excludes this form of communication was beautiful. The blind person was guided by a sighted walking companion, who in turn derived satisfaction from being helpful; but also the sighted person was guided, by the blind, to sharpen the ability to perceive the world around him through the other senses: the scent of nature, the wind and the heat of the sun that caressed the body, the rustling of trees, the sensations that rose from the feet along the legs, step by step.
We both experienced the same sensations, in a reciprocal exchange that was really and materially on a par, in a dance between trusting and relying on each other. A particular parity because it also included an intense sensory path of symbolic meanings such as tactile contact. Through the contact of the bodies, guaranteed proceeding arm in arm or hand in hand, or with the disjointed bodies but held in relation by a trekking stick held at the ends by both sides, we walked always connected.
A deeper relationship was established between us in which the journey symbolically took on the value of a “walking together” and, moreover, with a regular and relaxed step in tune with that of the two donkeys, Pippa and Lulu, who they have freed us from our usual and often frenetic rhythms.
The companion who was guided was not always the same person, so the exchange of sensory experience and “closeness” took place between the different participants.
The feeling we felt was that of cohesion and collective participation, making us feel as one as if we were a single body. step by step. Together we nurtured each other with that great feeling that we experience when we share a “real human exchange”. It is in this sense that this journey has given “something” more to mental and physical health and this it was low vision and blindness to make it possible.
Lucia Comar (Doctor) & Giovanni Oliva (Doctor of Physiotherapy)