How To Take A Mindful Walk

Mindful walking is a type of mindfulness practice that is helpful in connecting with our senses, bodies, and surroundings. Like any new technique, it is important to approach with a gentle non-judgemental awareness and let curiosity be your guide. Whether you are doing it alone or with others, give yourself time and space to explore and find a place outside where you won't feel rushed - like a park, a trail, or even your backyard (walking in a large circle).  Here are a few tips to get started. 


Allow yourself to just stand where you are and feel the connection of your feet to the ground. Begin to take some slow deep breaths. If you like, on the inhale you can imagine drawing the breath from the ground, up through the feet to the crown of your head. On the exhale, feel the breath traveling back down your body releasing any excess tension. Begin to weight shift on your feet from side to side and front to back to connect to the movement of your body with the earth. Find the cadence of your breath and let it be your home base to come back to when you feel distracted. 


Intentionally take your first step by placing heel, ball, toe with one foot and then with the other. Continue this slow stepping and begin to find a cadence with the movement and the breath. Keep your gaze gently low and in front so you can observe each step. 


Begin to engage your senses, beginning with your eyes. Let your gaze naturally lift from the ground to  observing all that you see. Slowly looking to the right, the left, and let your gaze settle on whatever draws your attention - it might be a color of a flower, a bug, the way the sunlight is reflecting off the trees. 


Now shift your awareness to your sense of sound. What do you hear? What is the loudest sound you hear? Let your awareness just be with that sound and notice any sensations in the body. Be aware of the sounds of your feet as they hit the ground. Now see if you can detect the most subtle sound, perhaps the wind, a gentle rain, a bird?


Bring your awareness back to your breath and become aware of the sensations of the breath at the nose and nostrils. Are there any scents that you notice? Even the absence of a sense? Perhaps a tickle in your nose. Just observing the sensations without any judgement or expectation.


Taking a moment to shift your breath to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth, shift your awareness to the sensations around the mouth. Becoming aware of any obvious or subtle taste you may experience. Again, perhaps not noticing anything, so just letting curiosity continue to guide you. 


As you are walking, taking a moment to pause and touch either the ground, the grass, or a flower (but make sure it isn't poison ivy:-). Become aware of the physical sensations particularly any pulsing, warmth, or tingling.


Now just continue walking and either repeat the cycle of senses or see if you are drawn to one particular sense. As it feels complete for you, finish the way we started by just standing, connecting with your breath, weight shifting on your feet, and take a moment of gratitude for this time you took to be more mindful, curious and aware.