Mindful walking is an active practice that serves the same basic purpose as a meditation session where you are seated or lying down. Instead, you are moving in your environment being consciously aware. As such, the exercise brings you closer to your surroundings (e.g. nature, outdoors) and sensations of your body while connecting you to the present experiences. Here’s how you do it…
Whenever possible, put on comfortable clothing and shoes and go to any place where you can walk safely for five to 20 minutes. Begin by standing still. Become aware of your body and how it feels. Notice your posture and the subtle movements of muscles to keep you balanced and upright. Feel the weight of your body pressing down on the ground and the sensation of your feet meeting the earth.
Bend your knees a little and feel your hips as your center of gravity. Take a few deep breaths, using your belly as much as possible. If your awareness starts to stray, gently bring it back to the present. Now, begin to walk at a normal, relaxed pace. Notice the gentle rhythm as each foot touches the earth.
Breathe naturally and fully, deeply filling your lungs with each inhalation, but being careful not to strain or struggle in any way. Allow your eyes to focus softly ahead of you, taking in as much of the periphery as comfortable. Try to maintain a soft body and breathing awareness as you walk naturally and easily. Feel the sun on your skin, the breeze on your face, the texture under your feet, see the colors of the sky and foliage, and hear the sounds of life around you.
When your attention drifts away from the sensations of walking and breathing, take notice of those thoughts, moods, or emotions without judgment and gently guide your awareness back to the present moment, back to the walking. Continue walking for five to 20 minutes, or longer if you feel comfortable and have the time.
To finish, come to a gentle halt and experience the sensations of your body in the environment. Take a few deep breaths again before slowly returning to your regular activity.
If you are not able to walk or do so safely, you can also do the exercise while performing any other task such as eating, washing dishes, drinking tea, etc. Make sure to take any action and make any movement thoughtfully, keeping your attention only on your task at that moment. Savor every touch, smell, taste, and vision for every moment. Soon you will find that such a focus intensifies your senses and you are experiencing mindful awareness. You can also practice these concepts in your communication or interaction with someone else.
What comes next?
In session 6, we look at the importance of communication in a helping relationship to build trust, break down resistance, and improve confidence and motivation through validation and empowerment.