Aren’t our daily lives stressful and somewhat mundane? Isn’t our physical activity also becoming limited with the growing use of mobile phones and laptops?
Yes! And this is why we often feel lethargic and exhausted at the end of the day, not only physically but also mentally. You see, our lives become repetitive and stressful.
To free yourself from this stress, it’s time to turn to mindfulness and meditation. One very easy and energizing form of mindful movement is walking meditation.
Walking meditation is as simple as it sounds. And yes, it works!
All you need to do is take out at least 10 or more minutes every day to take a short walk – like a break from your life to decompress. Are you wondering, “does it even work”?
If yes, then keep on reading. Below are the top seven ways in which you can achieve mindfulness while walking.
1. Body Awareness and Physical Activity
A short walk rejuvenates you, allowing blood flow in the body. The muscle movement provides the necessary physical activity you need to stay healthy, and the blood flow helps keep your mind healthy.
While walking, you should focus on your muscular motion, walking comfortably, be it slow or fast. By staying aware, you feel calmer and more attentive toward your surroundings.
Walking increases the pace of your breathing, and by regulating your breath, you can feel in control. While walking, narrow down your focus and take deep, slow breaths.
Inhale through your nose, making sure your lungs inflate, and your chest rises. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth, taking 4-6 seconds to breathe out.
By doing these breathing exercises consciously, you stay attentive. It helps calm you down, and despite walking fast, your body and mind feel fresh and alive rather than tired.
3. Thinking selectively
When you walk, filter out any wandering thoughts. Focus on a single object, thought, or activity, such as your breath. By narrowing down your thoughts, you will mindfully make an effort to control what you think and how you feel during your walk.
This exercise helps you feel relaxed. Even if you have stress or anxiety about something, think about it. Focus on why it makes you anxious and what you should do to stop it.
On your walk, appreciate the good things in life. Mentally note the blessings in your life and why they are important to you. It could be your family, your home, health, or education. Think about anything that makes you happy.
Appreciation and gratitude are very refreshing emotions that help you see the good things and discard the bad ones by weighing them against each other.
A walk is a perfect time to do this because it is your time in solitude and allows you to think more clearly. The meditation movement also helps in focusing.
One of the biggest reasons why walking meditation is very effective in achieving mindfulness is the unique landscapes or environments you get to see while meditating.
When you go out for a walk, you can choose from different settings depending on what you want to see that day.
If you are in the mood for some nature, you can go to the park near your house or a street with trees. Likewise, if you feel like seeing people, go to a busy area such as a nearby market.
One of the most popular settings is always somewhere where there is nature. Everyone loves nature, be it a garden full of flowers, mountains, beach, or just a patch of grass with some trees.
The familiar chirping of birds and rustling of leaves gives you a unique sense of relaxation.
So, when you are out on your walk, you should observe your surroundings. Think about what you are witnessing and how that makes you feel.
This allows you to eliminate any distractions and clear your headspace, letting the fresh summer breeze or cold winter winds rejuvenate you.
6. Sense and Absorb
On your walk, you observe not only your surroundings but also sense and absorb them. Observing is just using one of your senses – your sight.
However, you should mindfully employ the rest of your senses. Thinking about what you hear – the sounds around you. It could simply be people jogging past you in the park, the sound of stones scraping under their feet as they pass you by.
Then, carefully smell the different smells around you: the smell of freshly cut blades of grass, wet mud after a downpour, or even unpleasant smells like spilled food on a park bench.
Also, use the sense of taste. It isn’t easy, but you can taste the air, thinking about how it feels in your mouth.
Finally, use your sense of touch as well. Touch the leaves, houses, or walls around you in case you are walking indoors. No matter what you have around you, touch and feel your surroundings to feel more connected with them.
7. Group walks
Finally, group walks are also very effective in achieving mindfulness. You cannot only perform all of the above, but you can also share your sensations with the group, talk about your feelings, and discuss the thing that might be stressing you out.
Human interaction can be very helpful in becoming more mindful if you surround yourself with good and caring people who are mindful of themselves and you. This way, you also get to have a good laugh or two on your walk.
You can also find shared interests with your group members, such as a favorite book or movie, and talk about it. All this helps take your mind off the stress of daily life and have a little break for yourself.
Mindfulness is an essential and indispensable element in our lives, without which we cannot stay mentally or physically healthy. To take care of yourself, you do not have to do very difficult things. Even a simple walk can be just the thing you need to achieve mindfulness.
So, get out of your house, take a short walk, and forget about the rest of your day. Focus only on you and your present surroundings. With this, you will become more self-compassionate, aware, and present.