Have you ever gone on a walk to truly calm your mind and tune into your surroundings? Eliminating your headphones, social media, and any other outside distractions may seem difficult, but it’s worth a shot! Mindful walking is a relaxing way to slow down, breathe, tune in to your body’s movements, and enjoy the present moment. This method can also be described as a “walking meditation” that allows you to experience everything through your senses in a calming, meditative manner. If we haven’t convinced you to try this out yet, maybe the #Noomnerds can! Scientific research has found that mindful walking can lead to improvements in mood and mindfulness skills (Gotink). Studies discovered a link between mindful walking and a reduction in depression, anxiety, stress, and brooding (Gotink). This noteworthy research offers a glimpse into the potential of walking mindfully and cultivating a mindfulness practice!
To begin, consider these key points before starting a mindful walk
- Find an environment that works for you! This can be outdoors or indoors, depending on what is doable in your lifestyle. A place with less distractions and quietness is ideal but not mandatory.
- Walking at a quick pace is not recommended for mindful walking. In other situations, more high intense movement is recommended for a higher heart rate and to burn calories. However, the intention of this type of walk is to be in the present moment and be aware of our environment. Slow down and appreciate your surroundings!
- As you walk, your mind may shift to other thoughts. That is alright and will happen! Feel free to patiently and kindly direct your mind back to the sensations of walking and stay in the present moment. Accept where your mind goes and enjoy each moment of the practice.
Now, time to try it out!
Now, here are the key points to observe for a more mindful walk
What does your body feel like? Find a natural, well-balanced position that feels comfortable and keep your posture upright. As you start walking, try counting to 10 with each step. After taking these steps, pause and take a breath-the deepest one you have all day. Note any sensations that you feel with these 10 mindful steps. What changes would you like to make to your body with the next 10 steps? Become aware of the different positions your legs take as they move.
As you walk in this energizing stable posture, what do you see? Open your eyes to the surroundings and take in your sights as if you have never been able to see before. What new things are you noticing around you? Be sure to look ahead and be aware of the environment continually with your mind and body at ease.
What do you hear around you? Are there others around or are you by yourself? Note the sounds you are creating with your body or any noises around you. When your feet hit the ground with each step, how do your feet feel and what noise does this connection create?
What does the ground feel like underneath you? Is it smooth, rough, sticky, rocky? Find three adjectives that describe it and note how these make you feel. Experience every sensation with your foot as it makes contact with the ground with every step forward.
While taking this journey into mindful walking, some may find it helpful to carry a journal with them and note how they feel after the practice, for some further reflection. Stay in the present moment and be mindful! Discover what strategies work well for you to enjoy these mindful walks. Challenge yourself to add a mindful walk into your routine. Take this newfound and refreshed mindfulness forward with you into the day!