Hiking by Moonlight

Last Friday evening, we made a spontaneous decision to walk from home, up through steep woods and fields to a pub that serves excellent food, then walk the “long way” home over the racecourse and down the Cotswold way.  It was twilight as we ascended and completely dark after we had eaten.  The footpaths around our house are really familiar to us by daylight.  Taking the same paths by night created a challenge.  It was exciting to be on well-known ground in unusual circumstances, literally dis-orientating at times.  It took longer than in daylight as we paused to check, definitely longer than if we had returned home by the street-lit pavements.

Why did we do it?  The whole situation was novel and unfamiliar for us, asking our brains to make sense of the landscape and terrain without being able to see it in the usual way. 

It’s really useful to have habits and familiar ways of doing daily activities.  It’s also really useful to choose to do activities in an unfamiliar way, literally finding new pathways (which way shall we go here?  Shall we aim straight for those trees silhouetted on the skyline, then work our way along to the gate from there?).

Once we reach a certain age, it can seem simpler to stick with the easy path, the line of least resistance. Our brains are always open to learning new things, whatever our age.  We can learn new movement patterns, new thought possibilities, new emotional pathways.  Last Friday’s night hike was just the kind of exploring we do in Feldenkrais sessions!

“I do not treat patients. I give lessons to help a person learn about himself or herself. I believe that learning is the most important thing for a human being. Learning should be a pleasant marvellous experience”
Dr Moshe Feldenkrais