Learn to Practice Mindful Walking
Posted on August 15th, 2016
It’s great to see that there is an increasing number of articles and blogs on the internet about being mindful and present. In an era in which we seem to always be connected and have a hard time switching off, we all could benefit from being more present and aware of the richness in each and every moment. Mindful walking is a wonderful way to incorporate more peace into everyday life.
Firstly, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is being conscious of the present moment. Being mindful doesn’t mean ignoring thoughts or emotions, it’s being aware of them with a detached perspective. Let’s say, for example, you have negative thoughts and emotions. To be mindful about the situation means being aware of your thoughts, yet detached enough not to proceed to label the moment as good as bad; purely seeing the situation for what it is. Not being mindful would be getting wrapped up in the thoughts and emotions, and labeling the moment as negative. We feel much more out of control of our lives when we are not practicing mindfulness because we are completely disconnected from the notion that inner peace is still always dwelling within. Being mindful releases the power of our thoughts so that they don’t control us.
Find moments in the day to connect to your breath. Focus on the count of the inhales and exhales. Acknowledge any thoughts that arise but then return to counting the breath. Our minds are powerful, but they are not capable of simultaneously counting our breath and thinking about thoughts. As you strengthen the mind-body connection, it will become easier to access your breath when you most need it. Practicing mindfulness more often will also give you insight on your mental patterns. For example, how often you return to a thought or how you react to particular events.
Walking is a perfect activity to practice mindfulness. How often do we walk down the street completely wrapped up in the inner mental dialogue? How often do people use time walking down the street to spend more time on their phones? We don’t need more social media time, our minds need more peace and calm. It happens frequently where people walk by someone they know without seeing them! It’s time to wake up! Sleepwalking through life does not induce living a life to it’s full potential.
How to practice mindful walking:
As you begin to walk, take time to breathe as you enjoy every step. Notice how your body feels. Is it relaxed and light or heavy and stiff? How is your posture? Feel the heel touching the ground, as well as when you slowly roll off the ball of the foot. Really enjoy every step. If there’s one thing knee surgery teaches you, it’s not taking walking for granted. As you breathe and walk, really connect to both yourself and your surroundings. See your surroundings with clarity, just as they are. Observe the trees, people walking past you, if it’s cold or hot. What sounds do you hear? What kind of smells? If your mind begins to wonder to thoughts that don’t have anything to do with your present moment, bring it back to your breath and enjoying the simplicity of each and every step.
Recovery, meditation and life is all a journey. Continue ways to practice mindfulness, but don’t give up if it’s hard or if your mind continually wonders. Every day might be different. Journeys teach us to take one day at a time. Yesterday no longer matters. The only direction is moving forward. By making the choice to practice mindfulness, you are already on the direction to make your life more enriching and to stop missing what is around you.