Here is some guidance on How to do a Mindful Walking Practice.
It is a wonderful practice to do when you are agitated or anxious. The movement is soothing and calming.Walking mindfully grounds you and brings you into the present moment.
Mindful Walking – How to?
In walking meditation, the act of walking is your focus. So, instead of being preoccupied with what happened in work earlier, you intentionally pay attention to the experience of walking. Take your time, no need to rush to get anywhere. The objective is to just walk, present to each step.
Mindful Walking – How to? Lots of different ways to practice…
There are lots of different ways to practice mindful walking. The one outlined here is specifically to ‘focus your attention’ so useful when you experience is the opposite – scattered, agitated.
Mindful Walking Technique
This technique is very simple, so perfect for you if you are a beginner…
1. Decide on duration and location
Decide what amount of time you wish to spend walking and choose where you are going to walk, somewhere where you will not be distracted. You can walk in a circle or back and forth in a line (between two points about 20 feet apart is often recommended). This delineation helps us to let go of ‘getting somewhere’ and also limits mind wandering.
2. Get grounded
Before you start to walk, take a moment to settle into standing. Feeling the weight of your body going down, the height going up; the feel of the connections of your feet with the ground and whatever else is there in your awareness.
3. Set your intention
Notice the intention to move, before you begin walking and acknowledge your intention and commitment to cultivating mindfulness through this practice.
4. Slow down and pay attention to each step
Start a little slower than you normally do and focus on your feet as they touch the ground. Notice the sense of stepping on the earth: stepping, stepping, stepping…
Your eyes are downcast, aimed a few steps ahead, and your awareness is with each foot, as you place it on the ground, focusing your attention on the direct experience of contact.
5. Stop when the mind wanders and re-set
When your mind wanders, as it inevitably will; as soon as you notice, stop walking. Re-orient yourself to standing and start over, bringing your focus back to your foot and each step.
After you have settled into this rhythm, you can choose to slow down even move and de-construct each step further by noticing the lifting of the foot and then the stepping on the ground. Lifting, stepping, lifting, stepping.
6. Lifting, Moving, Stepping
The last sequence is lifting, moving and stepping. You really need to slow down even more so that you notice the shift of weight and other body adjustments.
Notice the detail – how your body feels with each step, what muscles are working, the ongoing balancing.
Whenever, you discover that you are ‘lost’ – no longer present to the walking. Stop. Stand and settle yourself before you begin again.
Some people find it helps to ‘note’ each element of the walking so that when they are lifting, they say ‘lifting’ when they are moving they say ‘moving’, when they are stepping, they say ‘stepping. This can give you a little extra support in remaining aware of the process of walking and staying attentive.
7. Noting when you loose focus
Similarly, you can use noting when you notice that you have lost focus on walking but maybe focused on ‘hearing’ (when a sound suddenly arises). You can stop walking, listen to what has caught your attention, as you note ‘listening’ and then resume walking with your focus on your feet and each step.
How to do Mindful Walking… lots of ways…
You can also do Mindful Walking with a wider awareness. Walking outside is an opportunity to look around and see how wondrous life is and delight in all of our senses – feeling the caress of the breeze, the warmth of the sun, noticing light and shadow, hearing the song of a bird, people laughing together, smelling and tasting what is there…
This article was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.