3 Simple and Interesting Ways to go for a Mindful Walk
Some days, getting into the mindfulness groove is a struggle. Perhaps you've had a long day at work, or you've argued with a loved one, or you're feeling overwhelmed by everything on your to-do list.
During these times, mindfulness can be difficult to practise and might actually become a source of frustration and cause more stress, rather than offer a space of solitude, clarity and calmness.
I introduced mindful walking into my regular mindfulness practice when I realised that I could focus more on the present moment when I was outside and moving around. Some days, being still just doesn't work for me. Perhaps you, too, have found that mindfulness feels great when you're in a calm state of mind, but as soon as things get more difficult (which is when mindfulness can be particularly useful), keeping your awareness in the present moment becomes much harder to do.
If your mindfulness practice is feeling especially difficult, stagnant or elusive, going for a mindful walk can be a great way to shake things up. Below, you'll find three different ways you can practise mindful walking, including going for an environmental walk, experiencing the senses and following your movement.
This mindful walk is all about the power or observing the world around you. As you look around, notice a few of the objects in your surroundings and think about them individually, for example, "there's a small bird, that's a leafy tree." Simply noticing and acknowledging nature is a wonderful way to bring yourself into the moment and, perhaps, you will notice things you might not have seen before.
Experience the Senses
During this mindful walk, take some time to experience each of your senses.
What can you see? There is likely to be an abundance of colours, shapes, textures and objects all around you.
What can you hear? Loud noises, dogs barking, traffic, voices, wind, birds?
What can you feel? Is your hair tickling the back of your neck or your shoes rubbing against your heels?
What can you taste? Are the flavours of your last meal still sitting on your tongue?
What can you smell? You might like to stop and smell the flowers and trees you come across or simply inhale the refreshing scent of the air.
Deliberately tuning into the senses allows us to have a mindful experience of the world around us, while encouraging us to be present and observant.
Follow your Movement
Notice the sensation as each foot peels away from the ground, moves through the air and connects to the ground again. Try slowing down if you're finding it difficult to concentrate. Often, we don't think twice about the movement of walking, however it can be a great way to focus your mind if you pay enough attention to it. You can also take the time to notice how walking influences other parts of your body, such as the way your arms swing and the movement of breath in and out of your body.
Sometimes, before I go for a mindful walk, I sit down and sip a glass of water. I allow myself to tune into my thoughts, acknowledge how I'm feeling and write a to-do list. This process helps me to create space for my mindfulness walking practice.
Remember your mindfulness practice is flexible and the beauty of the journey is you can find what works for you! Some days, being still and doing a body scan might feel perfect. Some days, it might not, and you would prefer to take a mindful walk. Simply find whatever helps you to be present in that moment and just go with it!