An Animist Walking Exercise

Barefoot Walking

An Animist Walking Exercise

Dare Sohei


Animist Somatic Practice: Walking/Moving-Sensing-Embodying


Human beings are unique biologically in quite a few ways, one major way is walking upright on two legs. Now, I understand that not everyone can walk, so please translate this into whatever works for you. Walking is interesting however, because it embodies all the necessary components for human nervous systems to go into a light trance state. Trance is one of the human abilities that is often co-opted for oppressive purposes, but in this case we can use walking as a gateway into ancestral ways of knowing. Walking allows for a repetitive rhythm, for pleasurable travel, and for us to “stack” other actions on top of it. This ability for one action or process to become “in the background” is a main component of various kinds of therapeutic activities, such as drumming and dancing.

When walking in this way, attempt to modulate your speed so that it is just slightly slower than your “normal” pace. Bonus points for making this slower pace invisible to anyone around you. Playing this particular “secret” game will help with developing the attention required to relate with your body and nervous system in effective ways.

For a warm-up. Walk around for 5-10 minutes switching between these three states of being while noticing your pace, posture, and bodily sensations.

Note: please titrate these states so that you are not becoming overwhelmed by the content they bring up. Remember you can always ask/demand/consent to feeling something 1% more or 1% less. If you feel like you get caught in a “thought-trap” a good way to eject from that pattern is to shake or pat your body while making sounds, sighing and yawning and to orient to your environment with your senses, letting your eyes go where they want to.

  1. Your normal or neutral self. “An average day in an average way for you.”

  2. Your Best self. “You just won the lottery/got a raise/your pantry is full of food/everyone you love loves you/etc.”

  3. Your worst self. “You just got fired/got bad news/didn’t get enough sleep/etc”

End the warm up in whatever way allows you to feel ready to explore.

The 7 Reclamations

These are listed in no particular order. I recommend letting your body decide which ones to walk with, which ones to embody, and to switch to another one every few days or dedicate one week to walking with each one in a seven week cycle. A simple note outside or above your door where you will see it every day will help you to remember.

Walking bare foot on the Earth will increase the intensity.








By walking-sensing with these spirits, it’s possible to begin to “feel as your ancestors felt” in a fundamental way. Again, focus your attention on sensations and also notice what emotions, images and narratives arise for you when you walk with them in this way. It is like a partner dance, like an internal martial art.


Full article, entitled “Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge” can be found here.


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