A Mindful Walk to De-Stress
We are in the final throes of last minute work, last minute shopping, last minute planning and hopefully, a well deserved holiday break from it all. No time for mindfulness? I get it. How about a mindful walk today, as you travel from one place to another? Inside—at the office, at home, or even at the grocery store—or outside, with the winter air whispering to you. The whole concept is to turn your attention to the present moment and focus on feeling, noticing, and experiencing the sensations in your body as you walk. Use your breath as an anchor, turning your attention to the breath to center you, and observe the sensations in the body as you move.
What does it feel like when your foot strikes the ground? How do your legs feel when you move them forward? How do the sensations change when you speed up or slow down? How does your body feel when you cease all movement? Do you anticipate your stop or does it happen without any thought? Do you swing your arms or keep them close and steady at your side? Can you feel the touch of your clothing against your body as you walk? Where do you look when you walk? What happens when you change the focus of your vision? Are you able to remain in the present moment, noticing the sensations in your body? This is how we meditate while we walk. This interrupts the running narrative of our wandering mind, and moves us into a mindful being mode. Walking meditations put your brain in a meditative state and trigger the parasympathetic nervous system—our center for rest, digestion, and relaxation.
And, when we choose to walk outside in green space, the chemicals emitted by green plants and trees create a physiological effect and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our bodies. If you can't get outside, the effects are similar even if you visualize nature and green space. Inside or outside, walking while turning our attention to our bodies and the breath is a simple way to practice mindfulness all the time. As an added bonus, neuroscientists now know that walking improves memory and attention by 20%, increases energy by 20% and decreases mental fatigue by 65%. Build your resiliency—take a mindful walk!
During these final days before the New Year, practice a walking meditation. You can practice at any time, in any place, and for any period of time. You will likely be on the move this weekend and next week so give it a try.
I hope you have a wonderful close to the 2018 year!
Love & Peace,