Mindful walking has been essential for me in these recent times. Have you also found a greater connection to walking and enjoying nature? Mindful walking in nature, which for me, often means ‘sauntering’, leads to clarity and calm.
When it’s Not Mindful Walking
Mindful walking is a great way to connect back with your body and gain a sense of clarity and calm.
However, we are so used to walking while our minds are tangled up in stories and problems.
As we overlook the beauty in our surroundings we rush headlong to our destination with no awareness of our bodies.
We combine walking with numerous other things. We exercise the dog, perhaps feeling that it’s a chore, walk fast to keep fit and count steps, or march alongside someone deep in conversation.
It’s easy to walk and continue in the way life is – competitive, rushed and noisy. This is the opposite of mindful walking.
The Basics of Mindful Walking
Mindful walking can be a regular practice of meditation. Here are some reminders that you can walk mindfully for clarity and calm:
1 Mindful Walking in Nature
Take a mindful walk out in nature.
- It connects you back with your body and with your surroundings
- You achieve balance and mental wellbeing
- The sense of harmony and enjoyment is mood-enhancing
As humans we often choose to do this naturally. We turn to nature to heal and replenish us. Many of us have been doing this during these times of the Pandemic and Lockdown.
Before you set out, bring your intention to walk with greater awareness.
Allow your body to feel relaxed rather than rushed.
Stop to take deeper breaths and sense a connection with your feet and the earth.
Look out for a spider’s web sifting sunlight, a lone tiny bird hopping alertly among the bushes, the smell of damp earth after rain or the swoosh of wings overhead as a group of starlings whisper past.
Intruding thoughts may keep diverting you, but be clear. Your intention for an hour or less is to walk in awareness, being totally present.
Keep focused on your surroundings and your body’s movements.
Slow down and breathe in time with your steps. Nature will reward you as your senses become more keenly attuned to unusual sounds or the sudden appearance of a beautiful butterfly or encounter with some other wildlife.
2 Gratitude While you are Walking
For your Body:
We easily take for granted the fact that our bodies are healthy enough to walk. If you’ve ever experienced illness when you could barely walk a few steps you will remember what that’s like.
It doesn’t take much to offer a tiny thought of thanks and appreciation for whatever your body allows you to do, even if you are walking slowly and your body is still recovering. Gratitude is a natural antidote to stress and anxiety.
We’ve all recently experienced what it felt like to have our freedom curtailed. That’s something we may never have dreamed of happening in our life. Huge gratitude that we now have more choices of location. We can walk in our surroundings, whether urban or rural. And we can explore further afield too.
Our hearts lift naturally and easily when we experience moments in nature. We don’t even have to leave our homes if we’re lucky – birdsong, majestic rainfall, the sounds of the powerful wind.
When I stand in a field full of wild flowers, hearing larks singing and watching them spiral up to the sky, it’s not a chore to think ‘wow’ and ‘thanks’. These words are what Anne Lamott speaks of as fundamental prayers. All anxiety drops when we connect with the beauty that’s waiting patiently for us to notice it.
Let your lips speak gratitude as you walk in wondrous nature!
3 Mantras While Walking
While you are walking you can recite a mantra or phrase to yourself to maintain your focus. This can be helpful if you are struggling with a ruminating mind filled with worry or lowness. Our minds get stressed when we allow ourselves to be continually distracted or we’re trying to do too many things at once.
While you’re walking, each time you notice you’ve got hooked into your negative thinking again, repeat a phrase that resonates for you. Focus on one of these phrases just a few times to allow you to ease back into your present moment:
‘I walk in peace.’
‘I am thankful for this walk.’
‘I walk with peace and serenity in my heart, as my feet kiss the earth with gratitude.’
4 And if You are Time-limited?
- Bring awareness to your body’s movements even as you walk from room to room in your house, office or workspace.
- Or as you walk from the house to your car, down the garden to the washing line, round the corner to post a letter.
- Notice how your usual way of walking is dashing headlong with hunched shoulders and crooked spine.
- Take a second to notice this and make adjustments.
- Relax as you move. Enjoy!
Little mindful steps throughout your day can bring seconds of calm to an otherwise stressful existence.
People usually consider walking on water or in thin air as a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindful walking – how powerful it is!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide