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I live in Southeast England and although we have one of the mildest climates in the UK, for most days during the winter months there is a tremendous amount of grey, wet weather. So it was a welcome surprise this morning to wake up to a bright and beautiful day. The sun was out, the sky was blue and there were even a few wisps of white cloud. I love getting out in nature and today was a perfect day to take a mindful walk.
The pleasures of mindful walking:
Connecting in a deep way with the environment especially in the summer when I can take off my shoes and walk barefeet, is an un-matched pleasure for me. Walking barefeet in open spaces when its safe to do so makes me feel connected to everything, I feel human and unrestricted.
Setting aside time to walk mindfully allows me the leisure to simply take my time and do it slowly. I can walk slowly and with grace, providing me with the opportunity to gain greater awareness of how I feel within my body.
Walking mindfully allows me to come into my true intentions, as I am practising movements in a purposeful way. It is a completely different intention from doing a routine morning journey to work, where the intention is getting to work. Here and in this moment of mindful walking the intention is quite simply the walking, the moment is about the journey and not the destination.
What is Mindful Walking?
Mindful walking is about taking a break to boost your mood and uses the everyday activity of walking, to support you to become more attuned to the sensations within your body. You can do mindful walking in just about most spaces available to you, however I like to take myself away from civilisation for an hour or so and just chill with the wildlife. I prefer to mindful walk in the countryside because I like the serenity of the woodlands, open spaces, lakes and ponds. Its a time when I can come back to my awareness without any unnecessary distractions, I am able to focus on breathing for part of the walk and then tune into nature. I enjoy watching the waters, listening to the birds calling and hearing the crunch of twigs under my feet. I like walking slowly and taking in everything around me, the sights, smells and sounds.
How I Mindful Walk
- I like to start by walking at a nice natural pace…its not a marathon…this is time for me to relax and enjoy feeling my body and awareness of sensations within an open space.
- I like to bring awareness to how I am walking, I like to feel my body being strong yet relaxed in the environment. I enjoy concentrating on walking sure-footedly when navigating the difficult terrains of muddy slopes to get down to the lakesides.
- A wildlife reserve I enjoy is home to five lakes, ponds and woodlands and so houses a wide variety of birds. This opportunity allows me to expand my awareness to the different sounds that welcome me to tune into the varying bird vocalisations. When mindful walking I allow the different sounds to wash over me without judgement or feeling a need to identify where or what it is coming from.
- I enjoy picking things up like stones, sticks and leaves and enjoy feeling the texture of these materials on my finger tips and in the palms of my hands.
- I then guide my awareness to the smell of the environment around me; earthy, woodsy, mossy and fresh. I do not judge the smell as good or bad or anything, I just take it for what it is, because nature accepts me for what I am.
- Once I have soaked in the beautiful smells of nature I move my attention to really hold with awareness the sight of everything around me. In this moment everything is in high definition and in only what I can describe as a surreal state of being. When you have been mindfully walking for some time, you may become aware that the colours and sharpness of the environment that you see around you truly start to enliven.
As I wind-down my mindful walk I enjoy doing some stretches using a few Qi Gong movements, its a way in which I can in some ways expand myself within the space. At other times if no one is around I sound out a loud universal call of ‘Om’ to open my heart and feel free.
Top tips for mindful walking
Find a place to walk where you will feel free, safe and at peace.
Wear clothes and shoes that you will feel comfortable in
Bring a bottle of water or a flask of herbal tea that you can pause to enjoy
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