Walking is… spacewalking

By Philip Cowell

During the first hour of the free three-hour Street Wisdom walkshop, we tune up our senses.

It helps you re-see the world around you with fresh eyes. Fresh everything really – being a body involves all 33 senses (as neuroscience now suggests there are).

One of the tune up exercises is simply: Slow. Right. Down.

Yesterday I had a go at a Street Wisdom workshop as a participant again. It felt like the perfect mind and body floss to start the year the right way.

I brought a friend with me. When we got to the Slow. Right. Down. bit, we found ourselves doing it together, walking up a set of stairs like a Spaceman and Spacewoman heading into a shuttle.

It was, actually, mind-blowing.

People zoomed past us. Their voices were so loud! Some slowed down, out of respect, or perhaps they were even annoyed at being delayed. I turned around to my friend (it’s amazing how long that takes) and smiled very slowly.

We Slowed. Right. Down. everything. Our feet, our legs, our arms, our hands. Even our voices (which is fun and a bit weird!).

Ten minutes felt like about half an hour, honestly. It was incredible. It felt like stepping out of time.

The German word for walking – “spazieren” – shares the same etymological root as the English word “space”. And in those ten minutes of Slowing. Right. Down., it really felt like we had made more space for ourselves, for our lives, for each other.

Walking in a Street Wisdom kind of way is a kind of spacewalking, and space making. We both walk in space, and create it at the same time. It’s outer space, it’s inner space.

As I move into my week, I’m reflecting on space: how can I be as spacious as possible? How can I enlarge the space for those around me?

by Philip Cowell