I put out the call to members of our team for their insights into how to manage your mental health during an unprecedented change in everyday life, that we are seeing now because of the Coronavirus. This time Maureen heeded the call and shared a mindful walking exercise 🙂
Walking outside has become the exercise of choice for many of us now as we are mostly confined to our homes. While keeping up physical exercise is extremely important, you may also like to use walking as a way of exercising your mind through mindful walking. Mindful walking has the intention of bringing you in to the present moment with every step.
Mindful walking is a way of taking your meditation practice from a still practice to a moving practice. When we engage in mindful walking our senses are actively engaged in our environment around us. It can connect us more deeply to nature and slow us down. When we walk with intention, we are invited to pause to notice sights, sounds and smells. If we tune into the sensations in our bodies while we walk, we also develop more body awareness, perhaps connecting with the sensations of our feet touching the ground, or the feeling of our breath flowing in and out. The usual benefits of mindfulness also apply, it can help increase concentration and focus and take us out of our heads into the present moment.
Below are instructions for using mindful walking, and an audio file is also available if you want to download it and use it on your next walk – whether it is around the block, or around the living room. You can walk at whatever speed works for you, and like all mindfulness practices, having openness and curiosity to your experience is important.
Mindful Walking – written instructions
Start standing. Feel the weight of your body balanced on your feet, and the contact between your feet and the floor/ carpet. Allow yourself to grow a little taller, and allow your jaw to be a little softer.
You can place your hands where ever they are comfortable, perhaps resting on your belly or your back, or have them hanging at your sides.
We are going to start the practice of mindful walking slowly.
When you are ready, transfer your weight into one foot and then slowly lift the other foot into the air. Feel the motions of the foot as you lift it and stay with the sensations of connecting with the floor as you place that foot back on the ground a little way in front of your body.
Finish this step completely and allow the weight to stay in this foot before lifting the second foot.
When you are ready, feel the movement of the second foot through the air, and the intentional placing of your second foot on the ground.
Continue to take another step, slowly lifting and then placing the foot with awareness.
Focus your attention on the sensations of the foot moving through the air and connecting with the ground.
Notice the sensations on the bottoms of your feet, notice how the weight shifts from the heel of your foot to the toes as you place your foot on the floor, and how your foot rolls off the floor in preparation for the next step.
At any time you can pause the walking, and become still once again and pay attention to whatever you can see, hear, smell or feel.
You are welcome to continue walking slowly, with attention just on the feet as they move through the air and connect with the ground.
If you wish, you can start to walk a little faster.
As you move a little faster, begin to pay attention to the movement of the body as you walk. Not only your feet but your entire legs, the movement of your hips and any movement of your arms and shoulders.
Stay connected to the sensation of the body moving as you take each step.
Remember to bring your attention back to the present moment any time you have noticed that the mind has wandered.
You can stay walking like this, or perhaps you want to explore moving a little faster. As you move, notice the movement of your body through space and, if comfortable, pay attention to your breathing.
Notice your body walking and breathing as you move around the room.
Notice the sensations of your arms swinging through the air, or your shoulders moving, or your legs and feet.
To finish our mindful walking practice, take a moment to pause in stillness once again and let go of any effort with this practice.