There are many ways to practice mindfulness. There may be a myth that mindfulness meditation is simply a case of sitting still and emptying your mind of thoughts. Or that it’s a form of practising gratitude, appreciating what you have and not worrying about what you don’t. Or that it’s the art of being so focused on now that you never reflect on the past or plan for your future.
Mindfulness is much more than a single set of rigid rules that tell you how to think or be. Because, although the word is built on ‘mind’, mindfulness can be very much about being active and what you do, such as being mindful through music.
One wonderful and accessible way to dip your toe in the mindfulness water is simply by walking. Mindful walking can be a way to awaken our senses as we notice the sights, smells and sounds all around us.
And in this challenging climate when lots of us are self-isolating, social-distancing or working from home, remembering to get outside and connect with nature is more important than ever.
Starting the morning with an intentionally mindful walk can be a great way to begin your day, turning your attention to what your body is experiencing, and bringing you some calm, clarity, peace and pleasure that you can harness and take with you throughout the whole day. So, what do you do to make it mindful walking, and not just walking? Let’s take a look:
1. Choose a foot to start with. Pick it up, move it slowly through space, and gently place it on the ground, feeling the sensations of each part of this process from heel to toe.
2. Walk with intention. It might feel a little strange, but let go of walking on ‘auto-pilot’ and become aware of what you’re actually doing.
3. Focus your attention. On the feeling of your feet making contact with the ground, your arms moving by your side.
4. Feel your surroundings. The impact of the air on your face. The wind in your hair. The rain on your skin.
5. Notice when thoughts take over. Are you replaying old conversations? Making to-do lists? When your thoughts take over, bring yourself back to focusing on your walking and your surroundings.
6. Experience everything around you. What’s the weather like? Do you have an opinion about it? What can you smell? What can you hear?
7. Pause now and then. Stopping in your tracks can make you feel grounded. Notice your feel on the earth. Breathe.
8. Find your pace. Purposeful walking doesn’t mean fast. And mindful walking doesn’t mean slow. Find the pace that is comfortable for you.
It sounds simple, but mindful walking is a great place to start your mindfulness journey. Whether you make it part of your morning commute or a leisurely afternoon stroll for some fresh air—give it a go, and see how it works for you.
If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness therapies, we’re here to help and would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us today.