Mindful walking is an ideal way to practise your mindfulness. Now's the chance to make the most of longer days and head outdoors for a welcome boost of sunshine and fresh air. Here are five tips to make your walk more mindful, increasing feelings of relaxation and ease. Bringing mindful awareness to the everyday is something everyone can achieve and helps us to train our minds to become aware of our inner stories - the more we can familiarise ourselves with our mind's activities, the better we are able to step aside from unhelpful patterns of thinking. Here's how to take a mindful walk.
Choose your route - in a park, out in the country or even round your back garden. You can choose to be mindful for your whole walk or just set aside 10 minutes to immerse yourself in mindfulness.
You can follow these steps in any order you choose, as you go about your walk, but just remember, if your mind wanders off on its own individual walk, take it gently by the hand, and bring it back to the present one. Your mind will almost certainly be tempted to go its own way, thinking about the future or the past, but a mindful walk is one where you try as best as you can to immerse your body and mind in your surroundings. Each time your mind wanders, just bring it back to your chosen focus of attention, whether it be sights, sounds, sensations or smell. If you can, make a point of noticing where your mind wandered (perhaps it got caught up planning, thinking, judging, remembering, anywhere but on the walk!), and remember to thank yourself for remembering to be mindful.
Bring your awareness to the sights of spring around you. What can you see? Explore the colours, shapes, and contrasts? Perhaps you can spot unfolding leaves, blossom, dew, shoots breaking the earth... notice and be curious about whatever you might find. Perhaps you can get up close to particular objects and examine them as if you had never seen them before. Stay focused for a time on what you can see.
When you're ready, tune in using your ears! What can you pick up on when you truly pay attention? See if you can listen in to nature. What the loudest sound, or the quietest, and everything in between? Can you even notice the silence between the sounds? Pay attention to the qualities of the sounds - can you pick out soft, sharp, staccato or secret sounds? What sounds are there to be found in nature? What's there for you?
You might like to bring your awareness to any sensations you can feel in or on your body. Can you feel a breeze? What's the temperature like? Can you feel the ground beneath your shoes? How does the ground feel? Just notice how it feels to be here, right now.
You might also like to stop and touch blossom, or leaves. Explore the sensations of touch. How does the flower feel, how does it move as you touch it?
Take a few moments to check in on the smells in nature. What can you smell in the air? Fragrance or freshness, remainders of rain, damp forest bark? Gather up the smells and truly be in this place as you walk.
When your mindfulness walk is complete, take a few minutes to reflect on what you noticed during your walk? How was it to truly pay attention using your senses in this way? What can you learn from this? How could this knowledge be applied as you go about your day? Perhaps you can think of other activities you could try using this mindful awareness.
It's that simple. I hope you enjoy your mindful walking!