Mindful Walking

// Mindfulness: the ability to maintain a moment-by-moment sense of acceptance and awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment.  Letting the past and the future inform the present, but not control it.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons to spend time outside.  In the Pacific Northwest, the leaves change slowly, allowing the autumnal feelings to linger. With a sweater on, and the crisp air on my face, I touch a greater sense of what it means to be alive.  

Mindful walking, also known as a walking meditation, is an active practice used to promote slow and mindful living, to improve concentration, and to more deeply connect with nature and our body.  It is about breathing in the now, being present with where your feet are at any given moment, and moving forward with intention.  

Steps for a Mindful Walking Practice

Be sure that you are dressed comfortably and are wearing shoes that do not distract you from walking.  

Take a moment and be still. Take 3 deep breaths, allowing them to fill up your lower belly.  Notice your posture and begin to recognize the weight in your feet pressing down into the earth.

Begin walking at a slow, steady pace.  Become aware of the heel-to-toe rhythm as your feet make contact with the ground.

Allow your breath to be natural and steady.  Soften your gaze.  

Your awareness may drift to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and thoughts as you walk.  Take note of these sensations, releasing judgement, then gently guide yourself back to what you are presently doing, back to your breath and walking.

Practice mindful walking for as long as you like, but try to start with 5 minutes.

When you have completed, be still once more.  Notice your posture, feel your feet on the earth, and take 3 more deep breaths into your belly.