During the day many of us are moving so fast, sometimes physically, but almost always mentally. Our neurons are firing in hyper speed with so much to do and so much to pay attention to. We’re all working so hard to get somewhere that we forget to be here. Sometimes when I’m rushing, I’ll notice that I’m “rushing home to relax.” In that moment I become present and realize that I don’t have to rush home to relax, I have arrived in the present moment and can choose to “be” different.
Here’s a trick I learned that helps me train my brain to be present while simply walking.
Mindfulness On-the-Go: Walking Meditation Practice
1. Appreciate. If you are fortunate enough to have the ability to walk, try and remember, it took you over a year to learn how to walk and these legs are often the unsung heroes that take you to and fro day in and day out. Thank your legs for all their efforts.
2. Ground. Bring your attention to the sensations of your feet and legs as the heel touches the ground, then the base of the foot, then the toes, and then they lift. You can actually say to yourself, “heel, foot, toes, lift.” This is a way to connect to the action of walking in the present moment.
3. Come to Your Senses. Walk slightly slower and begin to open your awareness to all your senses, one by one. Sight, sound, taste, feeling, smell. See what is around you, listen to the sounds, taste the air or whatever is in your mouth, feel the warmth, coolness, or breeze on your cheeks, smell the air. Then stop for a moment and see if you can take in all of the senses.
4. Say a helpful phrase. Recite some sayings while taking a few steps. For example, take a few steps and during an in breath say to yourself, “Breathing in, I have arrived, breathing out, I am home” or “Breathing in, I calm my body, breathing out, I relax.” Or make up your own sayings.
You can do this while walking to work, in the hallways, running errands, or walking from the car to the door on the way home. Keep in mind this is a practice. So whenever you remember that you are rushing home to relax, or really rushing anywhere, just say to yourself, “rushing, rushing, rushing.” This in itself widens the space between stimulus and response where awareness and choice lies.
In this space, you are now present and can engage in any of these ways of mindful walking. But don’t ever take my word for it, try it for yourself! Imagine what the days, weeks and months ahead would be like if you practice mindfulness on-the-go a bit more often. (And for more on walking meditation, you might want to check out “Walk This Way,” from the June 2013 issue of Mindful magazine.)
As always, please share your thought, insights and questions below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from Mindfulness & Psychotherapy