My mother has told me – more than once – that I walk perfectly when I think about walking well. The visibility of my disability is drastically diminished when I pay attention to the way I walk and carry myself. My disability is a lot more evident if I am tired or simply not paying attention to how I move, but changes when I shift my attention and intentions. I have tried to consciously force myself to ‘walk perfectly’ all the time, and I understand that it will become easier and more like second nature with more practice, but it’s hard to keep that focus with every step all the time. I am a dreamy person – too much so – and I tend to spend too much time stuck in my own head rather than paying attention to what’s going on around me. This extends to my walk in day to day life.
That isn’t to say my walk isn’t better. It certainly is. I’m just more aware now that I could reduce the evidence of my cerebral palsy in my gait if I chose to intentionally walk well all the time. I think people would still notice it and it would still present challenges for me, but I think it would ultimately make me more self-assured and confident. My mother said that when I walked in the new boots she recently bought me, I walked as though I felt more secure (and I did). I would like to have this sense of security more consistently – if not all the time – and I think I could achieve that if I were more mindful about what my doctor calls perfect practice.
I’ve been told that my limp and other disability-related problems go away when I run or I dance. They also go away if I walk when I am listening to music, which is part of why I wear my headphones and listen to music on my iPhone when I go out. I think this is actually both helpful and a hindrance. It helps me walk better but hinders me in that I have to consciously force myself to pay more attention to what’s going on around me rather than listening to my music, especially when I do things like cross the street. I don’t have fast enough reflexes to avoid something like being hit by a bus or car.
Yesterday, I made the decision to find a nearby yoga studio and to try vinyasa yoga, a type I have never tried before (I have done ashtanga, iyengar, and bikram). Yoga forces you to stay completely present in the moment and to use your mind-body connection consistently. I want to use a consistent yoga practice to build more consistent mindfulness into my everyday life. I also miss being in the hot room – as challenging as it is – because I feel so much better (physically and emotionally) with a consistent yoga practice. I haven’t been to yoga in months because I am afraid of how challenging it will be to ‘get back into it’ after such a long time away, but I’ve realized that it’s something that I need in my life in a holistic (rather than purely physical) way. I would also like to try a new form of yoga, and two people close to me regularly practice vinyasa and have had positive experiences. I plan to use it as a form of therapy.