Walk to Freedom

A Southern California University professor named Robert Thayer assessed 37 people wearing pedometers over a 20-day period. “We found that there was a clear and strong relationship between the number of steps they took and their overall mood and energy level,” he said at the conclusion of the study.

Read: Walking makes us happy.

In 1987 an American psychologist named Francis Shapiro was walking in the park when she noticed that moving her eyes from side to side seemed to reduce the stress she was experiencing due to some disturbing memories. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, was born. Today over 25,000 mental health practitioners use a technique developed by Shapiro and others to help clients and patients overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’ve tried forms of this with clients with good results, and plan on refining my technique further.

We’re not sure why EMDR works, but we do know that it helps move painful memories from the emotions to the thoughts. In other words, after EMDR, you don’t relive the memory any longer. You can remember it without re-experiencing it.

Lately the weather hints toward spring. A brisk walk on a day like today feels fresh and exhilarating. I’m prescribing now: Take a walk! Even if you’re not suffering from traumatic memories, take a walk. Especially if you’re working through a painful past, walk. Move your eyes over the horizon. Spot a bird flying above. Watch for crocuses at your feet. Scan the woods for a good trail. You may find it healing.

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