online: 9 september 2003

4 september 20038 last days of summer

17:54 Sunny evening and still warm enough for light clothing. A man walks by without a shirt. Nettles have lost most of their leaves and the stalks look purposeless, as if about to collapse. I had little energy myself for the 1st kilometre but regained it in the 2nd. The sky is a dull blue (perhaps smoggy) with no clouds. A middle aged woman in pinkish red seems to struggle a little as she walks up a steep hill... I'm glad I came, I nearly didn't.

I'm continually surprised at how being amongst trees and semi-wildness restores my energy and spirit - if I persist beyond 20 minutes. I notice that 20 minutes is also the time it takes for Yogic or Alexic* relaxation to take effect.

A rare event - a wren, about 5 cm head to tail, perches within 2 metres and stays from 10 to 20 seconds. The wrens I've seen usually perch 5 to 10 metres away and stay only for a second or two.

Someone is playing a recorder or some such woodwind in the distance.

Just describing these events seems to improve my state of mind - and perhaps it can does the same for those who read it themselves, or listen to me reading it. I don't need to know why this is - I just like walking and writing in this city forest. I'm adapted to it.

*My version of Yogic relaxation is to lie on my back while consciously letting go of muscle tensions in the periphery of the body: feet and shins, hands and forearms, tongue, eyelids, brow, and perhaps sphincter (if bladder is empty) - while keeping thoughts to periphery and to breathing...

I learnt this from Harold Abrams's 1940's book about athletics training and how to avoid tight stomach muscles before a race. Doing this I accidentally learned to go into deeper relaxation - a slightly frightening state of semi-deliberate deliberate loss of consciousness that I discovered later resembles Yoga.

'Alexic relaxation' is my name for F M Alexander's way of relaxing the spinal muscles by lying on back with knees bent and feet on the floor close to body - and about 5cm of paperbacks to raise head a little. Almost sure to relieve backache if you continue for 20 minutes - but that's a long time if you are not used to it.

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