If you’re looking for a way to relieve the stress in your life, one great way to do it is to include mindful walking in your life. This is not only a great way to stay fit but it’s also a form of meditation and those who meditate realize how much it can lower stress levels.
Mindfulness in all forms main goal is to increase your awareness and focus and this enables you to induce a more relaxed response to things at will. Part of mindful walking is inducing relaxation and this helps to also protect you from the many harmful effects of stress like high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.
The main key to inducing relaxation is by doing all you can to break the chain of your everyday thought by simple repetition. This is done by repeating a word, sound, phrase, or even a movement that includes mindful walking.
When you decide to start mindful walking pick a special repetition whenever stressful thoughts start to come into your mind. This is very important to help you lower your stress levels. It’s important to note the main idea of mindful walking is not to actually go to a specific place but to just become aware of the entire process involved in walking.
Starting Mindful Walking
When you first start learning how to do mindful walking you don’t even need a huge area to do it, in fact, you can just start off with a few steps to get you started. You can start by using a small space and starting at a pace that’s slow and as you become more familiar with practicing mindful walking you can then try different speeds as well as different places.
Mindful Walking Exercise
Here’s a simple exercise that you can begin with if you’re not ready to try mindful walking somewhere other than at home.
- Stand straight with your feet apart with your shoulders relaxed.
- Breath deep from your abdomen and become aware of it.
- Now bring all of your attention to your entire body and let your mind become relaxed. If you find your mind starting to wander bring your attention back to how your legs and feet feel.
- Consciously and very slowly shift your body weight onto one of your feet. Pay attention to how that feels and not the different muscles that are used and note the sensations of heaviness or lightness in your leg.
- Shift your weight to the other food and again notice all the sensations.
- Now consciously and slowly lift one foot and put it in front of you as you shift your body weight on it and feel the contact it has with the floor. Continue this for about five steps.
- Turn around and be aware of your decision to change your direction. Come to a stop and slowly turn around and be aware of the actual motion of turning around.
- Once you’ve turned around go back to the spot you started from. Repeat this short walking exercise for about ten minutes.
After you feel that you’ve got the hang of doing this in this small space it’s time to take a slow walk around your block in your neighborhood.
Mindful Walking Outside of Home
When you start your mindful walking make sure that you start with focusing on your breathing. You can use focusing on your breath as your anchor. Once you have that anchor let your awareness to notice all that’s going on around you. Try to notice the different sights and sounds as well as any sensations you might be feeling physically.
Take time to look at the trees and its leaves. Notice all the different aromas in the air as you walk. You also want to be able to feel every step that you take while mindful walking. Make sure to notice how the surface feels when walking on it. Even pay attention to everything that might be around your feet when walking.
You also want to make sure that you are aware of everything you might be hearing. Listen to the birds chirping or the sound of a car horn or an alarm that might be sounding off in the distance. It’s important to notice all these things, hear all of them without reacting to them.
Focus is Key
Make sure that you focus on the awareness of everything around you for a moment or two. This means every sight, sensation, and sound. Then you should return to focusing on breathing. Should any thoughts try to distract you from focusing, just notice them and let them slip away as you return to focusing on your breathing.
Once you learn to focus you will begin to notice things that you’ve simply taken for granted. You will be far more aware of how you’ve been taught through life to see things. You may realize that there are other ways to see these things. It can help you to start seeing life for what it really is and not how you tend to live it.
After Your Mindful Walking
Once you’ve decided to stop your mindful walking and head for home, consider trying to do some of the following so that you get a better understanding of your mindful walking:
- Consider starting a journal so you can write down all your experiences from your mindful walking. Note what your thoughts were, what kind of memories were stirred up during your walk. Also, write down any thoughts that might have intruded.
- Write down all the different sounds you may have noticed during your mindful walking. You might be surprised just how big this list might be.
- Remember and note all of the different sights you noticed while walking.
- Don’t forget to write down all the different smells you may have noticed.
- Include any feelings that may have experienced during your mindful walking as well.
Different Experiences for Different People
Everyone is different and we all notice things differently. We also feel different things and see them in different ways. Some of us might be more in tune with sights, others with the sounds around them. This is why mindful walking can be enhanced by having a walking partner. In fact, it could be a lot of fun to have someone walk with you during your mindful walking. This way the two of you can compare your different impressions of the walk together.
Mindfulness is About Seeing Things as They Are
Practicing mindfulness is something that teaches you to see things as they really are and not as we have been taught to see them. This is why mindful walking can be very helpful because it helps you to focus your attention on all that you’ve taken for granted in your life. It helps you to start noticing how the way your thinking affects the way you actually feel about yourself and life in general.
Mindfulness and mindful walking are steps toward changing your thoughts and perspectives along with the stress that comes with the social conditioning you’ve been subjected to in life. Society has taught us to let our attitudes govern our lives and how we feel about it. The stress we suffer from is often caused by our apprehensiveness and anxiety we may experience about relationships, situations in life and a variety of other things. Mindfulness helps you to understand that you simply can’t control everything in your life. It helps you to learn how to accept things you can’t change and enables you to work through them without a knee-jerk reaction to them.