Mindful Walking

Posted by on Apr 21, 2020 | Comments Off on Mindful Walking

Mindful Walking

Have you ever gone for a walk to clear your mind, but instead spent the whole time stressing about the fight you had with your friend or your upcoming math test? Exercise relieves stress, but somehow, our minds keep us from feeling the true calm that we’re trying to find.

Thankfully, we found a more peaceful experience called mindful walking. Put simply, mindful walking, or walking meditation, uses the practice of focusing on the present – what is happening right then and there – as you walk. You unplug from all your devices, go outside alone or with a friend, and pay attention to only the things going on around you. You might notice the way the wind blows in the trees, or the sound of your footsteps, or the way your body feels moving step-by-step, naturally.

According to Greater Good in Action at Berkeley, mindful walking:

  • Reduces stress
  • Increases your experience with positive emotions
  • Helps you tune in to experiences that you usually rush through
  • And it increases your appreciation of your physical body

Try out this step-by-step process from Headspace, a meditation app that includes free guided meditations and more. 

Begin in a sitting meditation to get you into a meditative state, then immediately go out for a walk.

Follow each cue for 30-60 seconds:

  • Body check – Notice how your body feels as you start to walk. Become aware of your posture and the way you’re carrying yourself.
  • Observe – Without trying to change the way you’re walking, bring your attention to it.
  • Tune in – Tune into what’s going on around you — passing cars, the breeze or rain, trees, or any other sights that come into your view. You’re not thinking about any of these things, though. Simply acknowledging what you see.
  • Note sounds – Notice the sounds that drift in, but again, try not to dwell on them.
  • Experience familiar smells – Turn your attention to any smells. Notice how the mind habitually wants to create a story out of each smell and how it might remind you of somewhere, something, or someone. Notice, and let it go.
  • Notice physical sensations – Next, make a point of noticing any physical senses, from how the weather makes you feel to how the soles of your feet feel as they touch the ground. Simply notice, acknowledge, and let go.
  • Feel your movement – Contemplate the sensation of movement in the body – how the arms hang or swing by your side or how the weight steadily shifts from right to left. Observe your stride, your pace, and your natural rhythm.
  • Allow your rhythm be the thing you come back to – Use that rhythm — the soles of the feet touching the ground — as your base of awareness, a place you can mentally come back to when the mind wanders off. Repeat this throughout your walk, step by step.

These steps are guidelines, not rules, so adapt them to fit your walk, wherever you go or however long it takes. As you walk, your mind will likely wander. Just gently bring your attention back to the present and remind yourself to be free from distraction.

Have you tried a mindful walk? How did it feel? Would you do it again? Share your experience with Ophelia’s Place on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or email us at info@opheliasplace.net

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