Walking is part of daily life for most of us. Whether inside or out, we are usually walking in order to get somewhere: a goal-based journey. Quite often, while walking, be it to another room, a walk to the shops or a walk outdoors for pleasure, our minds usually take a walk too, into the world of thoughts. Before we know it, our awareness has shifted from ourselves, our bodies and our surroundings, and we become lost in thought.
“I’ve forgotten what I walked upstairs for!”
Many is the time I have walked upstairs and by the time I’ve got there, I’ve forgotten what I went up for. Or perhaps you’ve noticed your thoughts becoming caught in loops, covering the same ground over and over again, all to no avail. Sometimes we can go out for a walk and become so caught up in the “goal”, or having to achieve this or that – we may at that certain point feel the familiar rush of endorphins, but how long have you had to exercise this time in order to feel free of that inner critic? Does any of this sound familiar?
“The beauty of it is, you can practise mindful walking indoors, in a small room, or take it outdoors”
During a mindfulness walk, by paying attention to what we notice through our senses, the mind is gathered out of the past or future and into the present moment. There is no particular aim or goal in a mindfulness walk, we are just being as fully present as we can with our current moment experience. Walking in this way can be rejuvenating, a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend nurturing time with ourselves – the beauty of it is, you can practise mindful walking indoors, just in one room, or outdoors.
“Just 5 or 10 minutes!”
So, if you’ve been sitting at your desk or sofa for a while and fancy a movement break, why not try this:
- Coming to standing – taking your awareness down to your feet – where does your weight feel distributed? More left/right, front/back than central? Perhaps quite central, or maybe there’s not much sensation at the moment…
- Allowing your weight to shift gently from one foot to the other: noticing the muscles in your legs holding you upright – noticing your shoulders – seeing if the shoulders can let go of one another – noticing your breathing…
- Starting to think about initiating a step forward, allowing your weight to empty out of one leg into the other and lifting the lightening leg up off the ground, moving that leg forward and slowly, gently, placing it down on the floor in front of you – noticing how your weight rocks forward through your front foot. How soon do you roll from heel to toe on your back foot? What does that movement really feel like? Do you notice the bones and tendons in your foot? Are you impatient to be “getting going”?
- Allowing your lightening back foot to lift, moving it forward – feeling it move through the air – noticing the changes involved in starting to lower it down onto the floor in front of you. Repeating the process and varying the speed. How do you feel about moving this slowly – is it comfortable, a revelation or is it uncomfortable? What happens with your balance – making the informed choice to use/not use support as you need. How fast do you want to move?
- Moving around your room, garden, woodland spot etc with no particular aim at all for the next five minutes – paying attention to the plethora of things that may normally go unnoticed – really appreciating your body and mind for all the wonderous things they do and leave you free for!
And seeing if you can bring this awareness into the next part of your day.
So, when you’re next rushing to get from one room, bus stop, superstore shelf, walk or climbing checkpoint, remember, a journey of a thousand miles happens just one moment at a time.
If you are interested in exploring mindful walking and in the presence of like-minded others, click here for details of the next Mindfulness Retreat Walks.