Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tripping Up on a Headful of Pebbles

      You know how uncomfortable and distracting it is when a tiny little pebble slips into a shoe when you are walking? You forge ahead for a bit, hoping it will shift to a spot where it doesn’t jab at your sole with every step. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, you have to take off the shoe and shake it out in order to move ahead with comfort and ease. Today, when I went out for my walk, it dawned on me that most of the pebbles that disrupt my steps lodge in my head, not my shoes.

     The sun was bright when I set out on my 2.6-mile neighborhood loop. Recent rains fed a verdant landscape now lush with the blooms of Spanish lavender, white peonies, and outrageous poppies, blazing in orange, red and pink. A glorious Oregon morning! It wasn’t long though before I noticed that my thoughts were churning out inquiries about when to book airline tickets for a winter trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. And those thoughts churned up mental protests about the seat selection process on an upcoming flight to  Tucson.

     With this running review of unresolved travel issues, my overly helpful mind was scattering some annoying pebbles in my path. Equally annoying, this nagging inner dialog delivered more than frustration—it pulsed out a steady stream of stress and cortisol, keeping my nerves on edge. I wanted to shake these pebbles out of my head!

     “In-Out, In Out,” I began to repeat mentally, coordinating the words with my breath. Fresh air in, Old worries out. “In-Out. In, Out,” Awareness in,  Fretting out.

     A few blocks later, I discovered that my thoughts were now nattering on about the patch of stucco that flaked off the garage when the power washers cleaned the patios this week. There’d been a few cracks before, enough to suggest that we were going to have to get that stucco repaired before long. “But who will do it? How much with that home maintenance project cost?” Then, up came a name that pulled me back to the past, to frustration about a previous home repair project.

     And there I was-- another pebble in my mind. More cortisol in my blood. Once more, back to “In, Out, In, Out,” bringing mind and body into the present. You get the idea, right? We all walk around most of the time with irritating pebbles in our heads. They distract us from the world around us. They stir up anxiety and self-doubt with a tired recital of  “to-dos’ and “should haves.”  “In, Out, In, Out” is a great pebble clearer. I use it in almost every walk I take. It brings focus to breath, and to the present moment. Breath is the fuel of life—a constantly renewing source of energy, inspiration, clarity. Give it a try on your next walk. "In, Out, In, Out."

For more ways to shake the pebbles from your mind on a walk, go to Take A Walk on website. To get blog posts on A Spirited Life delivered by email, register in the box above, right. 


  1. Carolyn, this is so simple and such a good post. I needed that!
    Thank you! Lorraine

    1. So glad you enjoyed this, Lorraine. It appears hat we NEVER out walk the pebbles, huh?


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