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Mindful Walking for Beginners

by A J Barker about a year ago in wellness

A 20-minute introduction to mindful walking

Hello, and welcome to today’s walk, my name is Avril, and this is mindful walking for beginners.

Today I will guide you through some mindfulness techniques while we walk and also explain a bit more about what mindfulness is and how it will improve your life.

I have been practicing mindful walking for many years after discovering the benefits of combining my daily meditation practice and my daily walking. Often, I didn’t have time to do both so this was the perfect solution and I have reaped the benefits ever since.

Before mindful walking, I would spend my walks worrying about my problems, thinking about something stupid I had said or done, ruminating over things, or I would list all the things I needed to do that day and it would stress me out!

Walking had become a chore because I wasn’t really enjoying them but would force myself to go just to get some fresh air and exercise. When I introduced mindful practice into my walks, I found them more and more enjoyable, and started looking forward to that time of the day. Mindful walking made me a happier and calmer person, and I really hope you find that too.

Before we start walking, I would like us to consciously step into this activity by taking a few deep breaths and doing some gentle stretches to align our posture.

When you breathe in, allow the air to expand into your tummy and when you breathe out, blow out a little bit more air than you normally would.

Ok so let’s take a deep breath in, allowing your tummy to expand, and breathe out just a little bit more air than usual, emptying your lungs.

And again, breathe in, [PAUSE] and breathe out.

One more time, breathe in, [PAUSE] and breathe out.

Now stand with your feet hip width apart and from the soles of your feet to the top of your head, in an upwards motion, adjust your body to make yourself stand as tall as you can. As you move upwards straighten your back, suck in your tummy, and lengthen your neck. Imagine being pulled upward from the top of your head. Now relax your shoulders and raise your arms above your head, reaching them as high as you can into the air. Relax your arms to your sides. And again, reaching your arms up and then relax them.

Now let’s begin walking. Whatever environment you are in, be it city or countryside, please remain aware of your surroundings, there is no need to zone out or close your eyes when being mindful.

Please also walk at your own pace and as we begin let’s take a moment to be thankful for being outside and for having the time to take 20 minutes out of our busy day to do something for ourselves.

This is your time so please don’t think about work or the list of things you must do when you get home – all of that can wait another 20 minutes.

If thoughts come into your head just acknowledge them, then let them go, and refocus your mind back to my voice or the activity. Mindfulness practice is quite simply being in the moment, enjoying the here and now, and being present. This time is not for you to worry about something in the future or ruminate on something that happened in the past. It is also not a time to think about your problems. For the next 20 minutes please let all that go, that is the least you can do for yourself, and you deserve it.

Today we are going to be mindful by using our senses: what we see, what we hear, what we smell and taste, and touch.

As we are walking, I want you to scan your body and observe how your body feels and re-adjust it if anything feels uncomfortable. I would also like you to relax your jaw, we hold a lot of tension there, so gently open and close your mouth, yawn if you like, and let’s put a slight smile on your face, gently lifting the edges of your mouth upwards. There is no need to grin like a Cheshire cat, unless you want to of course.

My favourite sense is sight so today we will start with that. Now you may be walking somewhere you have walked a hundred times before, but by mindfully seeing, today you might see something you may have never noticed before.

As you are walking clear your mind and focus your attention on what you can see, if it is safe to do so, move your head around, look up and down, and side to side. For the next few minutes, I want you to really look, scan what is in front of you, and take it all in. Isn’t it wonderful, how blessed are we to have eyes to see. Feel free to stop and look more closely at something, otherwise just observe without judgement.

I will stop talking now for a couple of minutes to let you experience it fully.

[PAUSE – 3 minutes]

How was that?

Did you manage to stay focused?

Did your mind wander off or did you start thinking about something else?

Did you see anything you had never seen before?

Did you appreciate something for the first time, maybe something you see every day but never took the time to look at closely?

If you struggled at all, please be reassured, that is normal at first, the more you practice the easier it will become.

Now we will spend the next few minutes doing the same exercise but focusing on what we can hear.

I want you to clear your mind and focus on what you can hear now, listen intently, depending where you are you might hear the sounds of traffic, or birds singing, a baby crying or a dog barking. For the next few minutes I want you to really listen to all the sounds around you, without judgement. Often there will be multiple sounds so just focus on one at a time and listen, then tune into another sound and another. If you are somewhere silent then just enjoy that too.

I will stop talking now for a couple of minutes to let you experience it fully.

[PAUSE – 3 minutes]

How was that?

Did you manage to stay focused?

Did you hear anything you had never heard before?

Now we will spend the next few minutes doing the same exercise but focusing on what we can smell and taste.

I want you to clear your mind and focus on what you can smell now, take a big sniff through your nose and try to determine what it is you can smell, and at the same time think about the taste in your mouth. Taste is often the most elusive of the senses so feel free to taste something on your walk, especially if you happen to pass a blackberry bush or cherry tree at this exact moment.

I will stop talking now for a couple of minutes to let you experience it fully.

[PAUSE – 2 minutes]

How was that?

Was it a bit harder than the first 2?

Did you smell something new or taste something yummy?

The final sense we will focus on is touch. It is up to you what you touch, it could be leaves on a tree, your own clothes or you could take your shoes off and walk bear foot in the grass, or you can just feel the breeze blowing on your face or the sun or rain on your skin. For the next few minutes do this and just enjoy the feeling, without judgement.

I will stop talking now for a couple of minutes to let you experience it fully.

[PAUSE – 3 minutes]

How was that?

Did you enjoy it?

My favourite is walking bear foot and feeling the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair.

If you really like any particular sense, then you can spend the whole 20 minutes of your walk just focusing on that one.

As we finish up today, let’s take a moment to thank ourselves for taking the time out for ourselves and for trying something new, and say a big thank you to our bodies for being so awesome.

My final note is to encourage you to keep trying mindfulness practice, whether it be mindful walking or any other mindful activity. Like anything, the more you practice the easier it gets, and the more disciplined your brain will become. Mindfulness practice can help alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and aid with sleep. The more you practice, the more benefits you will see.

Take care for now

One love

wellness

A J Barker

I love writing poetry! Initially just for me, a cathartic exercise where I could express my feelings safely. Now I share my work: my goal to write for a living so I write, avidly, knowing the only way I will become a writer is if I write.

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