Thursday 31 March, 2016.
Mindful Walking is a Mindfulness Meditation.
And mindful meditation is excellent for managing stress, besides having so many other benefits and purposes.
In fact, it is a practice that I try to apply often in my daily life…
When I do remember, it brings a different perspective to my activities.
The aim of a mindfulness meditation is to increase our focus and awareness, which, in turn, helps us to be able to induce the relaxation response at will. The relaxation response induces a relaxed alertness, physiologically very different to either sleep or just putting your feet up. It’s the physiological opposite to the potentially harmful fight or flight response. Inducing it, for just 20 minutes twice a day, may protect you from the harmful effects of stress such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.
How To Induce Relaxation
The key to inducing the relaxation response is breaking the chain of everyday thought by repetition! That is, by repeating a sound, word, phrase or even movement such as walking…
Gently guiding yourself back to your repetitive phrase or activity when any thoughts come into your mind…
Mindful Walking is a “Meditation in Motion” combined with “Mindfulness Techniques” – both being types of meditation.
The whole idea of mindful walking is not to go or get anywhere, but to become aware of the process itself…
So you do not need a big area to walk around in – a couple of steps are all you need to start with.
Start off at a slow pace and as you become more familiar with the practice you can experiment with different speeds and locations.
Do A Mindul Walking Exercise
- Stand up straight, feet apart and shoulders relaxed.
- Become aware of your breathing…
deep abdominal breathing is the way to go.
(If you are doing shallow chest breathing go to Breathing to find out the how and why of changing your breathing pattern.)
- Bring your attention to your body, your legs and your feet and allow your mind to relax…If your mind starts to wander, just bring your attention back to the feelings in your legs and feet…
- Slowly and consciously shift your weight onto one foot, (either one first, it doesn’t matter). Become aware of the feelings of the movement. Note the various muscles that are being used and the sensations of lightness or heaviness of your leg.
- Now, casually shift your weight to the other foot.
Once again, just notice the feelings and sensations of the movement…
The idea is to just become aware of the feelings!
Nothing else! No comments – No discussion – No anything. And don’t forget to breathe!
- Slowly and consciously lift one foot and place it in front of you, shifting your weight onto it and feeling the contact with the floor. Feel the various muscles moving throughout your body. Continue for about five paces.
- Now for the turning process…
First, become aware of the decision to change direction.
Then come to a stop, and slowly go through the motion of turning. Once again, be aware of all the different muscles and feelings involved in the change of movement.
- Walk back to where you started…
Doing this walking meditation over a space of five steps forward, the turn, and then five steps back, could take you up to ten minutes.
Once you have the hang of it in the small space in your house, try taking a slow walk around the block.
While walking, focus your awareness on your breathing. Use this focus on the breath as an anchor or “homebase.”
From that homebase, allow your mindful awareness to notice any sights, sounds, or physical sensations that may come up…
Look at a tree, the leaves, the fruit or flowers and even notice the aroma.
Feel each step you take…
Notice the surface on which you are walking – is it rough or smooth? At an angle? Even take notice of what is around your feet.
Pay attention to what you are hearing…
The birds chirping, the hooter in the distance of maybe an alarm going off somewhere…
Just notice! Hear… without any reactions.
Focus your awareness for a moment on that sight, sound, or sensation, then return your awareness to your breathing.
If persistent thoughts distract you from your mindful awareness, simply notice them, and return your awareness to your breathing.
With this practice you will start to notice what you have always taken for granted or done unconsciously. You will become aware of the way you have been taught to see things – which may not be the only way to see them! You will start seeing your life more for what it is and how you actually live it.
If I asked you what is the colour of an apple? What would you say?
Red or Green!… Correct?
And if I said White? What would you think?
Well, cut one open and see the apple for what it is!
Makes you think, does’nt it?…
Everything has more than one way of explaining itself, of “being seen” or understood.
When doing these exercises it is of utmost importance to have a bit of fun at the same time and enjoy what you are doing!
When you return from your Mindful Walking Meditation outdoors, try the following…
- Write down what you experienced during the mindful walk…What thoughts, memories, or associations came up during the walk? What persistent thoughts ?
- What sounds did you notice during the walk? – The list often is quite amazing.
- What sights did you notice during the walk?
- What physical sensations did you notice? (e.g., changes in the wind, the texture of the ground beneath ones feet and railings on ones hands, the various kinesthetic sensations associated with walking).
- What smells did you notice?
- What internal feelings came up during the walk?
Different people notice and feel different things during Mindful Walking. You may be able to determine your particular style of mindfulness. Some people are very tuned to sights, some to sounds, some to kinesthetic and tactile sensations. Some are very sensitive to the social dynamics of what your walking partner was doing during the walk. Some get very caught up in the internal world of thoughts, feelings, memories.
It might be fun and helpful to set out on a Mindful Walk with a willing and interested companion and then share your impressions!
Mindful Walking focuses your attention on what has been taken for granted – we usually walk without even a conscious thought! You will begin to see things from a slightly different perspective and you will start noticing how your thought processes affect the way you feel about your life…
This is a step towards changing perspectives and thoughts – and the stress that comes with social conditioning!
Our attitudes govern how we feel about the ups and downs of our lives. Stress is caused when we feel anxious or apprehensive about situations, relationships… any “up” or “down” in fact, that we feel we have no control over and cannot manage…
The Art of Mindfulness is about seeing things as they are, without trying to change them. The aim is to try and change your reactions to some of the emotions or thoughts that you experience. This does not mean that they will go away, but it can change your perception of them, thus changing the affect that they have on you.
Click here to learn more about mindfulness.
You CAN control the effects of stress in your life! And Mindful Walking is a good place to start!
Living Mindfully: A Path to Wholeness
by Deanna Reynolds
Mindful living is all about making conscious choices. Through a five-step process presented in this course, you will be empowered to consciously co-create new realities…. realities with a more positive, creative, and hopeful outlook and outcome. Learn more here.