Who would have thought that walking would become the therapy needed to cure a disorder that seemed to have no diagnosis and no known treatment?
Every morning before she left the house Lisa Berman was compelled to touch everything around her four times. She would continuously go back and check the lights were off, the stove was off, the door was locked. Compulsively scrubbing her hands with Dettol, inside she felt toxic, self conscious, fearful and depressed. She could barely get into her apartment because it was packed from floor to ceiling with magazines, newspapers, clothing and any manner of clutter. Where everyone else in the world seemed in control Lisa Berman was confused and lonely. Interpersonal relationships were disastrous. “Rejection became my friend, and subconsciously I would set myself up to be rejected by the people around me,” says Berman. “I had all types of phobias; I was scared of glass and of spiders, I never invited anyone to my home. Yes, there were labels for the type of behaviour I displayed: obsessive compulsive was one, ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder), depression and so on, but what did that help when all I wanted was to be normal and feel the same as others.”
Today, Lisa Berman is a successful Pilates instructor and ‘soul walker’ who shares her healing journey through her work. She is currently writing a book called, I feel me, I feel free. Using natural therapies like acupressure, Pilates, meditation, visualization and psychology she has overcome her phobias and paranoia and lives a completely different life to the one she had previously. Her apartment resembles a clutter free, zen-like sanctuary, she is vibrant and has replaced despondency with excitement. Her posture is completely different and she has a level of self-awareness she never had previously. “For years I practiced walking consciously, taking in the energy around me allowing it to rejuvenate me and then giving it back to the earth. I learnt how to transfer negative emotions and feelings into positive ones, how to surrender my fears and have faith.” Through walking Berman saw that everything in nature is unique, she started to recognize her own uniqueness and felt less isolated.
“Walking also helped to raise the serotonin level in my body which helps alleviate depression.”
Cape Town based movement therapist Maureen Green worked with Lisa Berman to create a strong and positive connection with her body. “It is your mind that moves your body, often we become locked in one type of movement without realizing what we are doing,” explains Green. “By focusing on imbalances in her body, Lisa was able to develop body awareness which extended into an awareness of all the areas of her life.” Only recently has Berman been able to appreciate the real blessing and value of her challenging journey through severe discomfort with her body and environment.
“Soul walking can be practiced by anyone, the most important thing is to get into a sensory mode”, says Berman. “Get out of your head and become aware of the colours, smells, textures, the space and the feel of the wind or sun on your skin. Give yourself permission to switch off and bring yourself into present awareness. Then use imagery to bring replenishing energy from the earth through the soles of your feet up your body and right to the crown of your head. Express yourself spiritually, gives thanks or pray.You can also visualize energy from the sun entering your body through the top of your head and down your spine to your feet. It’s not about how fast you walk but about walking consciously and with awareness.”