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Walk Your Blues Away

Walk Your Blues Away

Could it really be this simple? Yes! This easiest of self-help techniques has gained widespread recognition: you really can solve problems, heal trauma and transform stress by walking.

Here are the five easy steps for walking your blues away:

There are five steps to correctly performing a Walking Your Blues Away session. They are:

1. Define the issue. Before going for your walk, consider the issues that are still hanging around in your life that you feel are unresolved. This could range from past traumas, hurts, angers, or embarrassments to relationship issues with people you no longer have access to (including people who have died).

There is no specific right or wrong issue to work with. If you can think of it, visualize it, and get a feeling from it, then you can walk and work with it.

2. Bring up the story. Story in this context refers to such thought patterns as “She was cruel towards me” and “He had no right to hurt me like that” and “Why did she have to die?” There is always an internal story, with you and the object of the story at the center, and it’s important to pull that story out so you can say and hear it explicitly. How would you describe the story to yourself, in your most private and safe space, if you had to boil it down to a few words or a sentence or two? Notice the strength of the emotional charge associated with this event. Using a scale of 0 (truly don’t care) to 100 (the most intense you have ever felt), come up with a number to rank the emotional charge connected with this event.

3. Walk with the issue. Pick a route that is at least a mile long, and ideally two miles. The key is not to find a distraction-free walking area–that’s pretty much impossible. Rather, the key is to continue to remind yourself to hold your picture and/or feeling in front of you while walking. When you find your attention wandering, just bring it back to the issue.

Relax into it. To motivate yourself, think of the positive resolution that you’re trying to achieve. There is no failure. There is only feedback. Learn from the feedback and continue on.

4. Notice how the issue changes. As the emotional value or the emotion attached to a picture/memory changes, the submodalities will change. When people walk with an unpleasant memory, it’s not uncommon for them to say they see it beginning to disintegrate or get dimmer or lose its color or move farther away or even behind them.

Once the change has happened, people notice that the emotion they feel about the picture is now different. It’s still possible to remember the event, but the feeling about the event has changed. Often the story of “I was hurt and it still hurts,” for example, changes to something like “I learned a good lesson from that, even if it was unpleasant.” Present-tense pain becomes past-tense experience.

Let the process proceed until you notice a perceptible shift in feeling. Then ask yourself, “What’s my story about this memory now?” If the process is complete, you’ll discover that the story you’re telling yourself will be considerably healthier, more resilient, and more useful than the previous story.

5. Anchor the memory. When the picture is well formed and you notice that your self-told story about the event has changed, anchor this new reality by reviewing it carefully–observe the way the picture has changed, listen to yourself repeat the new internal story, and notice the feelings associated with the new state. Notice all the ways it’s changed. Think of other ways it may now be useful to you, even helpful. As you’re walking back to your starting point, think about how you’d describe it if you were to choose to tell somebody else about it.

When you get home, consider writing something about your new experience, your new vision, your new story. If you don’t want to write it down, just sit in a quiet and safe place and speak it out loud in private to yourself. These steps help anchor the new state, fixing it in its new place in your mind and heart, so it will be available to you as a resource–rather than a problem–in the future.

Read more: Spirit, Exercises, Guidance, Self-Help

Adapted from Walking Your Blues Away, by Thom Hartmann (Inner Traditions, 2006). Copyright (c) 2006 by Thom Hartmann. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Walking Your Blues Away, by Thom Hartmann (Inner Traditions, 2006).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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Walking Your Blues Away

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7 comments

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5:15PM PDT on May 21, 2012

nice approach

1:14AM PDT on May 21, 2012

Thanks for posting.

8:31PM PST on Feb 16, 2010

Very informative; thank you, Annie.

8:30PM PST on Feb 5, 2010

Walking is also helpful for your back if you suffer from back pain.

11:06AM PST on Dec 16, 2008

If you cannot walk cause you are hurt get a stationery bike. If you hurt your arms it works well too. The chemistry of the body and the mind are joined so finely. Without the exercise and the oxygen at optimal levels, we are lost.

5:03PM PDT on Apr 28, 2008

Well I really think walking helps me deal with stress. I walk everyday and sometimes I use the time to look at problems I have. So my point is---I think you can walk your blues away. I don't think it would hurt to try it for people who are thinking about it unless your doctor tells you otherwise for some type of unusal medical reason. I feel that walking is the best exercise for the body without being to extreme.

Brandi

3:45PM PDT on Apr 28, 2008

What a wonderfully new slant to an old tradition! PMA meets kinesthetic therapy...

~ Alex

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