How to turn an ordinary walk into a marvellous and mindful experience, so you can connect deeply with the earth and with yourself
Did you every think about how far you walk each day? If you are fairly active, chances are you walk 6-8 kilometres (4-5 miles) without even knowing it, just getting from A to B, walking around your home, doing errands, going for a daily walk.
And what is going on in your mind while you are walking all these kilometres? Are you dreaming, planning, ruminating, worrying….? Or are you paying attention and connecting with the world around you?
I’ve discovered that walking anywhere is an ideal opportunity to practice mindfulness.
I used to travel fairly often for work and had the opportunity to visit many amazing cites all over the world. I always made time to wander around the city by myself, with no particular destination in mind, just to discover what the city offered, what it looked like and felt like.
One of our favourite things to do when we lived in New York was to go out and just wander, to see what would happen, what would cross our path, what new things we would discover that day. In a city with so much diversity, when you wander with eyes open and attitude open, you always discover something new and fabulous. Every time.
Cities are wonderful places to wander, where an abundance and variety of sensations and experiences are possible if you are open to them.
Now we live in a tiny town on Lake Huron, and my wanderings are closer to home, closer to nature. We walk in the woods, on the beach, along the boardwalk by the lake, or through tree-lined streets. I often walk alone, usually in the mornings, taking some personal time with no distractions to connect with myself and to connect deeply with the earth.
What turns an ordinary walk into a wandering meditation? It’s about opening your awareness and all your senses up to whatever is happening while you walk, tuning in to the present moment and everything you are experiencing: what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you find, how it makes you feel. Instead of walking around on auto-pilot, lost in your thoughts, hardly noticing where you are going.
It’s a different way to experience a walk…wherever and whenever you may wander. It’s an opportunity to marvel at the beautiful things you discover around you, and within you as well.
Here are my 10 TIPS TO TURN YOUR ORDINARY WALK INTO A MARVELLOUS AND MINDFUL EXPERIENCE:
1. Set aside some personal time to go outside and consider this your soul-care time.
2. Create a little adventure for yourself. Amble and explore for a half hour, an hour or few hours. Where? It doesn’t matter, you can wander anywhere: a new part of town, your own neighbourhood, a forest, a park, a beach…
3. Decide where you will go but don’t plan anything. Just go. Wander with no plan or destination in mind, and go where the wind or your inspiration takes you.
4. If you walk the same path, this time walk it differently, with different eyes, perhaps more slowly, and with more awareness.
5. You may decide along the way to collect something: wildflowers, leaves, stones, shells. Collecting can mean photographing what you find. It’s amazing what you notice when you look around with intention and awareness. I am always collecting shells when I walk by the ocean. And on every beach I visit I look for smooth stones that will become Mindful Intention Stones.
6. Plan to bring a snack, some water, a journal if you’d like to record your experience.
7. Leave your phone at home. No music. No apps. Just you. If you get lost, that’s part of the fun, and you will find you way back. With no distractions, you are free to really pay attention to what is happening around you.
8. And just stay open to whatever happens, whatever you come across
9. Make it a mindful experience, tuning in to the lavishness all around you, this is what makes it a meditation:
10. Solitude is key. Walking and talking is a beautiful way to connect with another person, but that’s a totally different experience. A wandering meditation is something you will want to do by yourself, to be able to truly pay attention to what’s happening all around you. If you want to go with someone else, wander silently together without talking, perhaps at a little distance from one another, taking turns taking the lead, so that each of you can be fully immersed in your own personal mindfulness experience.
Make sure you stay safe and protect yourself while you wander!
If you can't wander today, think about doing a mindful Tree Pose in the company of trees near by. Tree pose is a wonderful way to find calm, connection and steadiness.
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