Mindful walking

Do you know when it is easy to be mindful? When you are walking in the mountains. Not only will you be fully enjoying the beautiful views, but also, you will have to be mindful of your steps in order not to injure yourself. But you don't have to be in the mountains to practice mindful walking.

Mindful walking is an easy practice that you can do anywhere. It doesn’t cost any time so it is ideal for busy people.

First of all I recommend that you set an honest intention at the beginning of the day that you will practice mindful walking as often as you can think of that day. You will notice that while you will walk a lot (to the coffee machine, to the bathroom, to the car, with your dog), you will often forget to be mindful. Your intention will make sure that you will be reminded a lot by your own mind. And every time you will be reminded, you will have a choice to start walking mindfully.

A quick reminder of what it means to be mindful. To be mindful means your attention is in the here and the now. The present moment. One thing that is always available in the present moment, is your breath. And being aware of your breath can have a relaxing side effect as well. So, when practicing mindful walking, you could match your breath with your steps. For instance: three steps on the in-breath, four steps on the out-breath. You will start to notice a rhythm that is comfortable for you.

If this feels too forced or uncomfortable for you, you can also pay attention to the physical sensation of your foot touching the ground at every step. And to the swing of the leg. Whenever you mind starts wandering, just bring it back to your breath or the sensations in your feet and legs.

My husband, who is a nature photographer, has helped me a lot to be in the here and now when walking. He often takes me to beautiful places in nature and when we walk, we don’t talk very much but he often points out beautiful little creatures, or interesting mushrooms. We walk slowly, and pay attention to the birds that we see. We see shy little animals like water snakes or mice. I see so much more when being silent, in touch with my breath and the feeling of my feet on the ground.

Being mindful doesn’t mean shutting out the world. I use the awareness of my breath to anchor myself in the present moment, so that I don’t get carried away by my thoughts. And in that present moment I can simultaneously be aware of my surroundings. The people I am with, nature, the coffee machine.

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