Walking is of course a great way to keep active and physically well, but did you know it can also be utilized as a method of including mindfulness and meditation into your everyday life?
Walking is an automated movement that we practice every single day. For most of us, we put one foot in front of the other without needing to focus in on the specific action, it is completely second nature. Because of this, our thoughts can race around our minds, causing clutter and chaos.
People go on walks every single day. But often, the walk is undergone with thoughts completely elsewhere. It can feel impossible to switch off, you may be physically out in nature, but mentally, still in the office or analysing all the tasks on the to do list, still to be completed.
There are, however, ways to transform your daily walk into a more mindful or even a meditative practice. And by doing so, creating a greater inner peace and connection to your mind and body.
Here are some things you could try to begin walking more mindfully:
Make a conscious effort to notice your thoughts:
As you begin your walk take note of where your mind may be drifting off to. It could be work or family related. Acknowledge those feelings and then let them go, remind yourself that this walk is for your mind and body. This walk is not however, a time to plan this week’s shopping list or worry about when you will ever have time to go back to the dentist. Shift your mind back to the present moment and focus in on the simple act of going for a walk.
Tune into your posture:
Check in with yourself. Are you holding any tension within your body? Are your shoulders raised? Do your hips feel tight? Quite often we subconsciously hold the stress we have in our lives somewhere within our bodies. It isn’t until we take a moment to notice the stress and tension within us that we can actively release and let it go.
Take in your surroundings:
As you walk, observe the world around you. There is no need to fixate on anything, but take it all in. Notice the trees and the changing surface under your feet. What colours can you see? Are there buildings or houses? Look at the birds and notice their mannerisms. Wherever you are walking, remain in the present moment. Too often we miss all the small stuff because we aren’t allowing ourselves to be truly present. Let your life go for the time you are on your walk and let in all the things that surround you.
Feel all the senses:
Now that you are in the present moment, dive deeper. What can you smell? What can you hear? What taste is still in your mouth? Take deep breathes and feel your lungs with fresh air and as you do so, take a mental note of all the senses of your body and how they feel.
Always return to the movement:
Come back to your body and the rhythm of your steps. As you come to the end of your walk notice if you feel different, mentally, physically or maybe both. Is there a sense of lightness and clarity that you can keep with you as your day continues?
This guide is a simple start to mindful walking, there are many resources out there that you can utilise for more meditative walking guides.
Including mindful walking into your day to day life has many benefits. 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times a week can have a profound, lasting impact on your physical and mental health.
Mindful walking can reduce risks of health implications such as illness, obesity and heart disease whilst simultaneously alleviating anxiety, stress and creating a greater sense of self. Life today is busy and noisy; our minds rarely get the chance to be still. Regular practice of walking integrated with meditation can ease tension and bring much needed calm into our lives.