Guest Post By: Yogazeit Volunteer – Maya Hoang
Mindfulness is a beautiful way to become aware of our thoughts, body and senses.
It gives us the opportunity to reduce stress, to notice how our inner world looks and to stay in the present moment. It’s something we can practice alone or with other people, as with our children, friends or family. Maybe we find ourselves during a busy day, running from one appointment to the next one, picking up our children from school or having lots of housework to do. There is not much time to analyze the way we feel and what is happening in our surroundings.
Perhaps some among us even tried to practice mindfulness in the form of sitting meditation but didn’t like the stillness of it. What if I tell you there is an easy way to practice mindfulness, not only at home but wherever you are?
The MINDFULNESS WALK is not only an exercise for people who don’t have the time to sit down and meditate but also for everyone who likes to walk outside and wants to become more mindful. It’s a practice you can do by yourself or together with your children and family. You can easily add it to your daily routine as you don’t need any equipment. All you need is to walk somewhere.
Walking is an activity most of us practice every day. We might not even be consciously aware of it each time we stand up and walk.
It helps us with:
● immune system function
● strengthening the heart
● improving the management of hypertension
● lowering the blood sugar
● increasing muscle strength
● energy and mood
● improving joint and muscular pain or stiffness
● stronger bones and improved balance
If we add mindfulness to our daily walking, it will:
● improve mood and mindfulness skills
● reduce depression, anxiety and stress
● increase the quality of life
● create mental relaxation
● lessens fatigue
● connect you with your body
When practising the mindfulness walk, we start to connect with the ground, the environment and most of all, our body too. As we focus on our steps and senses that we feel while walking, we find ourselves in the present moment and get the opportunity for appreciation.
There might even be things in our surroundings we haven’t noticed before!
How does the practice work?
The mindfulness walk is a movement meditation without a goal or intention; what we simply are is to be aware of each step we take. Slowly we start to pay attention to our sensations and our environment. Meditation is most successful when we find ourselves in the present moment.
● Start walking, and with each step, you take, notice the up and down lifting of your feet. Become aware of how you touch the ground and if your mind should start to wander, just come back to the focus of each step. This is what walking meditation is about, other than only focusing on your breath when you do sitting meditation; you put your attention on your gait and its sensations.
● Now slowly pay attention to these sensations of your body. Notice the movement and muscles in your body parts. You can even ask yourself ‘How do my feet, legs or arms feel like? Is there any tension? Notice and acknowledge the observation of your body.
● From that step, you can easily turn to the awareness of the environment. Let your senses come to the surface. With an open mind, you can allow yourself to discover new things and enjoy the different impressions. What do you see? How does it smell? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Maybe there is something familiar, and it reminds you of certain places or moments.
Also, use your sense of sound; what can you hear? You might walk through nature and hear the different birds chirping. What do you feel? Is it your hair touching your shoulders? Don’t force yourself to feel all the senses at once. Start with one and move then to the next one.
Within the meanwhile, you entered a state of being that is focused in the present moment, in the here and now. Appreciate and enjoy this moment of walking in calmness.
● Before you bring your awareness back to your physical sensations:
- Stay a little bit in this present moment.
- Breathe deeply in and out.
- Let the sensations and feelings flow through your body.
● When you come to the end of this walking meditation and also arrive at your destination, notice one last time your physical sensations and how your feet touch the ground. When you choose to end the mindfulness walk, stand still for a short while. Let this experience pass through your body and mind.
- Walking meditation promotes immune system function, muscle and bone strength, and improvement of the cardiovascular system and lower blood pressure.
- It strengthens the heart, improves joint and muscular pain or stiffness and the management of hypertension, boosts energy and mood.
- If we add mindfulness to our daily walking it will reduce stress, anxiety and depression, increase the quality of life, create mental relaxation, lessens fatigue and connect you with your body.