Mindful Walking: what is it and why should you bother doing it?
I ended up on an unplanned mindful walk today.
I set off up the bush track behind my house at my normal speedy pace. But around 20 mins in my hip joints decided they weren’t enjoying it as much as my noggin was. And 5 mins later my bulging perggo belly and my sleep deprived (hello pregnancy insomnia, no one told me you were a thing!?) lungs agreed.
So the remainder of the walk (normally a 45 min loop but today took me over an hour!) became a MINDFUL WALK.
And, although I practice mini mindful walking often, I have to admit I was surprised by how thoroughly I enjoyed my longer form mindful walk!
So I wanted to share the practice with you so you can go forth and mindful walk yourselves!!
Check out my video below or read on for more details.
What is a mindful walk and can how you practice it?
A mindful walk as distinct from a ‘get from A to B’ walk or a ‘workout’, is a walk where your sole purpose is to bring your attention to the act of walking.
Sounds simple right? And it is! But just because something’s simple doesn’t make it easy! But what can make it easier is a step by step practice process.
So here goes …
1. TURN IN
Start by bringing your attention to your body, notice everything you can feel in your body.
Notice what you can feel on your skin (the warmth of the sun, the touch of the breeze, the texture and temperature of your clothes).
And notice what you can feel under your skin (the movement of your leg bones in your hip sockets, the feeling of your muscles contracting and relaxing as you move …). Notice your feet planting into the earth. Notice your arms swaying.
2. TURN OUT
Then, bring your attention to what’s around you.
Notice what you can see (the quality of the light, the weather around you, the scenery). The sounds you can hear: try to notice both the most obvious and also more distant sounds. Notice everything happening around in the present moment: right now!
3. NOTICE YOUR MIND WANDER, BRING IT BACK, REPEAT!
As much as you try to focus solely on the feeling of your feet connecting with the earth, the sounds of birds chirping and the warmth of the sun on your skin. Your mind WILL wander away to what you’re going to have for dinner and the fact your car registration is overdue!
As soon as you notice this is happening, simply bring your attention back to the present moment!
Why should you bother with a Mindful Walk?
First, there’s the obvious benefits of ensuring you truly savour the experience of walking. Noticing the beauty that surrounds you and appreciating the true miracle of having legs that can carry you around and lungs that can breathe …
But if you’re after some more pragmatic persuasion, try this …
By practicing mindful walking you’re practicing mindfulness! And practicing mindfulness will afford you with a laughably long list of life benefits (you can read more on this and check out links to nifty science-y stuff in my earlier blog post here) like:
Mindfulness promotes your natural relaxation response and makes your brain less reactive to stress.
When your relaxation response is triggered, you feel less stressed and more calm.
By promoting your relaxation response, your immune system is strengthened, and your body becomes less inflamed.
Your focus and concentration improves so you get more done in less time and with less stress
You’re better able to manage mental health conditions, and you’re happier!
You’re better able to manage your responses to situations so your relationships improve, and you gain greater clarity and confidence in yourself—meaning you’re better able to access your intuition (and less likely to get lost in endless thought spirals).
And more likely to do things that are important to you (but might make you nervous!)