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Weekly Mindfulness Support Blog - The Feet Will Follow

Hello and welcome to Saturday, November 6, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again. Do your best to make it meaningful.

I’m currently reading a guidebook on the Camino de Santiago written by the respected pilgrim, John Brierley. What I deeply appreciate about this particular guidebook is that Brierley not only offers practical guidance on the outer journey, but he also places a weighty emphasis on the inner journey. Brierley writes, “an accurate map and guidebook is useful to help you plan your itinerary and excursions and to put you back on the path when your mind wanders and your feet follow!”

This mindful, sage advice reminds me of how I used to teach new skiers to make their first turns. Unlike many professional ski instructors who spend hours and hours teaching one to transfer their weight to this foot, roll their ankle that way, drive their knees this way, I found that once someone could safely progress down a gentle slope going straight, all they really needed to be told was to look in the direction that they want to go. I warned them that if they look towards the trees, they’ll find themselves in the tress. If they look at other skiers, they will likely collide with them. I was always careful to tell my students to look towards the open spaces. The body knows what to do.

Think about driving a car. If we turn our head to the right, there is a tendency for the car to veer to the right. This is especially true for new drivers. When walking, if we look off to the left, without any conscious effort, our gait tends toward the left. The direction in which we’re looking is the direction in which we travel. Where we look, the feet will follow. I believe this is true for every aspect of our life.

Wherever we look, whatever it is that we pay attention to, our thoughts, words, and actions – our feet – will follow. What we pay attention to grows, and it also influences our response.

If we look for all the things that our partner is doing wrong, for instance, the more wrongdoing we will see. The more of it we see, the more our thoughts, attitudes, and actions are influenced by the negative behavior. In time, we become perpetually offended, discontented, and unhappy with our living situation. The relationship moves away from love and companionship and toward judgment and bitterness. As we become more discontented, this is of course displayed in our words and actions. This changes what our partner sees in us, and our partner responds in kind. Furthermore, the more we pay attention to their wrongdoing, we elicit from our partner more of the very behaviors we don’t wish to see.

On the other hand, if we often and openly recognize how our partner benefits our life and acknowledge what they do for us and their skillful behaviors, not only does this inspire our partner to display more of this behavior – we become more appreciative and grateful. Our partner responds similarly. The result is a more nourishing, reciprocal relationship.

This isn’t to say that we simply ignore unkind, unhelpful, or cruel behavior. No, we must address it skillfully and compassionately. Nevertheless, the more we turn our eyes toward kindness, generosity, and beneficial behavior, the more of that we will see. And yes, our feet will follow.

You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!


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