“Walking is a technique of solitude, away into reverie. The walker is not a sleepwalker but a daydreamer.” – Deirdre Heddon
Walking is something with which many of us are now extremely familiar. Over the last year, going for a walk has been one of the very few things that we have been able to do. On top of that, walking has undoubtedly been one of the things that have kept some of us from going completely insane.
Whether passively or not, the likelihood is that, if you have been doing a lot of strolling this year, you will have been doing so mindfully. Before the pandemic, and certainly, in my case, walking was simply a means to reaching a destination. Whereas now, I have walked along every road in my neighbourhood, and noticed things about roads I have walked on every week for the last ten years, that I have never noticed before.
Now, you may be delighted that you no longer have to go on walks for something to do. However, if you are, I would urge you to think again. Walking for mindfulness and wellbeing is an easy way to maintain a positive outlook and a clear mind. Indeed, you have fallen in love with walking these past twelve months and maybe looking for more conscious ways to walk mindfully. If this is the vase, then read on, for you are in luck…
1. Take the Heat Off Your Pace
I am a Londoner, and I like it. Therefore, my walking pace is that of a runaway freight train. I walk very fast indeed. Therefore, if I were to go out for a mindful walk, the first thing I should do, as should you, is take my foot off the gas. Walk a little slower than you normally would, slowing your breathing with it. you may even find it useful to count your steps as a means to slowing your pace. This walk is not aimed at a destination, it is not time-sensitive, and it is not for physical exercise. This walk is for your mind and your wellbeing.
2. Heed Your Senses
Pay attention to your senses, and the things that they are experiencing.
Your eyes. What can you see? What is the light like? Are there many people out?
Your nose. Is the air fresh? Does it smell like it has been raining recently?
Your mouth. Does the air taste anything? Is the weather making your mouth dry or wet?
Your ears. What background noises are present? Are the birds singing? Is there traffic in the distance? Perhaps you can hear water.
Your touch. Feel things as you go. Trees and bushes, walls and buildings. Is the ground hard or soft? Can you feel a breeze on your skin?
3. Conscious Curiosity
Really look at your surroundings and take interest in them. My favourite thing about walking around my neighbourhood recently has been paying attention to the houses and their varied architectural traits. This curiosity helps to turn your walk into an experience of your present environment and to move you away from whatever else is going on in your life that day.
4. Get Lost
We have phones now, so we can always work out where we are. So, let your curiosity and your instinct guide you. Try and let go of even the pressure of knowing where you are. This will likely lead to a much freer and more pleasantly surprising walking experience.
5. Guide Yourself to the Present
Walking is good for letting the mind wander. I often find myself sorting out problems in my head whilst walking, without really putting too much effort into it, as I have given my brain the space to do so. However, this is a mindfulness walk and is all about the present moment. So, if you do find yourself drifting into the worries and pressures of your life, gently try and pull your focus back to what is happening in the ‘here and now’. Redirect yourself to what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
By Chris Thomson
Walking is an excellent way to boost your wellbeing. However, if you are after more wellbeing boosting habits to add to your routine, this archive article may help… 5 Lifestyle Habits to Boost Your Wellbeing
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