Seven steps to turning your walk into a moving meditation
The practice of mindfulness is when we give our attention in full to the present moment. Often we can go for a walk in nature and spend the entire time lost in the thoughts in our head. Repeating old stories and grudges, or worrying about future events. They say, as humans, our natural state of being, when we are not rehashing the past or worrying about the future, is a state of bliss.
Let’s explore bliss as we walk.
- Slow it down initially, just a little bit. If you love a fast-paced walk (me!) that’s great … just start off a tiny bit slower than usual and take a moment to feel the point of contact with your feet on the earth. Really plant down each foot firmly and enjoy that feeling of being sturdy, capable, strong, and present. If there is an accompanying noise, all the better. The crunch of gravel, the rustle of leaves, the swish of grass, enjoy the music you make as you make your temporary imprint into the earth.
- Walk tall; not all stiff like a soldier, but effortlessly tall and relaxed. You at your brightest, showing up for life without slouching or collapsing. A simple tip to lengthen the spine effortlessly is to slightly lift the centre of the upper chest as you walk. This little lift also relaxes your shoulders automatically.
- Notice your breath. You might notice it in your nose, your chest, your ribs or your belly. Simply noticing it is a part of your practice.
- Notice the rest of your body, the clench of your jaw, your frown, the grip of your hands or the tension in your shoulders. Remain tall but relax the outer body.
- Tune into your senses. Notice the beauty around you, smell the subtle scents. Feel the air on your skin. Notice the sounds around you whether it’s birdsong, traffic, or laughter. The sounds will all be transient, just like your thoughts will be.
- Acknowledge your thoughts. We are not striving to blank the mind void of our thoughts, just simply choosing which ones to entertain. If it’s a thought about the present moment, relish it, if you are off in the past or thinking about the future smile at your human tendency and then let the thought go.
- Let go of any expectation you might have of doing the practice ‘right’. We are not trying to be like Monks floating serenely through life. We are messy, imperfect humans and our practice is to embrace that, and teach ourselves how to keep coming back to living in the present moment so we can enjoy life to the full. There’s no way to do the practice wrong, you just periodically notice when your mind has drifted off and bring it back.
“Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.”
Thich Nhat Hanh