What is Mindful Walking?
Mindful walking is a practice that focuses on the body and mind. It helps people to be more aware of their surroundings and to live in the moment. It also helps them to become happier, healthier, and more productive. The practice is becoming popular among wellness enthusiasts as well as fitness experts such as yoga instructors, personal trainers, and physical therapists because it can help with many physical ailments like high blood pressure or chronic pain.
The practice also has some benefits for mental health, including reduced anxiety levels which can reduce stress-related health problems like heart disease, cancer, and depression. Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Sitting in chairs can cause pressure sores on the buttocks, thighs, and legs. More than 40% of men and women in the UK are estimated to sit for more than six hours a day, with some of them spending their whole working week doing so.
6 Reasons You Should Try Mindful Walking Now
Mindful walking is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost your overall well-being.
The benefits of mindful walking are numerous. These include an increased focus on the present moment, an increase in self-awareness, improved cognitive function, better sleep quality and quantity, reduced cortisol levels in the body, and an improved sense of well-being.
- Improved cognitive skills
- Improved mood and mental health
- Increased energy and vitality
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Better sleep quality
- More time to focus on the present moment
How to Get Started with Mindful Walking Outdoors
1. Basic Walking Meditation
Basic walking meditation is, in fact, quite simple. All you need to do is notice your body as it moves, making your sensations the focus point. Don’t forget about your sensory system. Sometimes when we go through a day not recognizing how autopilot has taken over our lives, it can be a great idea to catch ourselves and then attend to the senses.
Walking meditation is something you can consider for increasing your enjoyment and quality of life. Being aware of your body and sensations during exercise leads to healing and a more mindful lifestyle. You should be able to detect your pulse, body temperature, and breathing rate before, during, and after you begin moving. This might help you to determine if the way you are walking is comfortable or if steps could help you to stay more focused.
Sometimes in sitting practice, you can use your breath as an anchor and focus on the point between the inhale and exhale, where there is a moment of stillness. Similarly, in walking practice, you can use stillness to help track the steps and shift your rhythm on the fly.
2. Adding Words or Phrases
You can stay focused by counting in rhythm with your steps. If your mind wanders and you lose count, just notice where your mind has wandered, and return to the count again. Don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing that you get distracted from your actions or thoughts.
And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time after the cycle is completed. In Christopher Gerber’s & Kristin Neff’s program, Mindful Self-Compassion, you can practice saying thank you and sending gratitude or compassion to your body as you move. This practice includes phrases like “I deserve to be well.” You can also repeat reminder phrases silently to yourself.
3. Sensory Walking
This meditation is a helpful adaptation of mindful movement, using simple exercises focused solely on the senses. It’s awe-inspiring to be outside and move, and everything around us can feel like a special moment because of our senses. Our thoughts drift to the past or future when we’re outside, so our senses keep us grounded at the moment.
- The first thing you should do when you’re out of town is to get really familiar with your surrounding area. Walk while keeping an eye on your surroundings, and watch how everything shifts as shapes and objects move in and out of the line of sight.
- Simply focus on the soles of your feet. Notice different sensations when standing on a surface and learn how to incorporate it into your workouts.
- Then, focus on sounds. Those of your own footsteps, as well as the changing sounds in the world around you as you move.
- Lastly, focus on the smells and tastes in the air to compare. You’ll notice that they change depending on where you are, which will help you discern if a product is truly authentic and not just smelling like that because it’s from a warehouse.
5. Appreciative Walking
You can provide a more natural experience in your office or workplace by walking more and taking care of the world around you. You might not just be walking more, but also trying new things and taking care of yourself. Various experiments have found that focusing on the beauty around us as we walk tends to have a lasting effect on our mood long after we rest, similar to the way other gratitude and appreciation practices work.
With the help of AI writing assistants, it’s easier than ever to save time on your company’s projects. That way, you can spend your time focusing on other essential aspects of business and enjoy the benefits firsthand. Always remember to take time to appreciate and notice the positive things that are around you, on your walk and elsewhere. Head over to jot these down in a journal, send them out with a text, or post them for others to see outside of work.
6. Observational Walking
Walking is a way of getting in touch with your emotional experience, hence the term “experience walking” that so many people talk about. Notice all your emotional reactions to things around you while you’re on a walking path, as they might further lead to personal revelations. Once you get to the top of the hill, it can become a bit more difficult.
Emotions are everywhere. How they affect our movement, what we see, or how we react depends on our emotional state. It is widely known that people often attempt to control their emotions with an exertion of self-control which can even have negative consequences.
When angry or frustrated, try walking in a different way – fast and without regard for others. You might be perceived as unresponsive and dissatisfied. Try walking confidently after that, and then shifting back into your own rhythm and gait, if you can still find it. Reflect on all of these, realizing where your walking pace takes you.