A mindful walk outdoors allows us to connect with nature and open us up to new perspectives. The practice of mindful walking has been prized in various cultures and is considered a form of mindfulness while in motion. Nature has a positive effect on our physical and emotional health. Even brief exposure to green spaces can increase happiness and focus.
The Japanese “forest bath” is a research-backed practice that has gained popularity around the world for its benefits for the mind and body. Incorporating mindfulness into the movement of walking gives us mental and physical benefits, relieving depression and anxiety and improving our overall health. On stressful days, making time for a walk outside becomes even more important to take care of our mental health.
See: Nature’s amazing gifts for your well-being
With that in mind, here are six ways to make the most of your next trip:
1. Basic Mindful Walking Meditation
Mindful walking meditation is simple and is based on paying attention to the physical sensations while walking. You can create awareness about different aspects of walking, such as the feeling of your feet on the ground or the movement of your muscles. Watch for subtle changes in your body before, during, and after you start moving, such as your pulse, body temperature, or breathing rate. In the practice of mindful walking, you can notice the fixed points where the right step becomes the left step and vice versa. When practicing sitting, we use the breath as an anchor and focus on the point between the inhale and the exhale, where there is a moment of stillness.
2. Add words or phrases
One easy way to focus your attention while walking is to incorporate words or phrases into your steps. You can count to the beat of your steps, counting down one step each time you get distracted, without judging yourself. Another option is to express gratitude or sympathy toward your feet and your body as you move, or repeat the reminders under your breath or inwardly. You can try out the phrases suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh or create your own that will resonate with you during your next trip.
3. Sensory walking
Mindful walking meditation involves tuning in to our senses as we move. We can enjoy precious moments by being outside and moving around, focusing on the present. First, notice how the scenery changes as you walk and keep your eyes fixed. Then focus on the sensations in the soles of your feet, and the sounds and smells around you as you move.
4. Walking with body awareness
One interesting practice of walking meditation is focusing attention on body parts such as examining a moving object. Start by focusing on the soles of your feet, and then, after a few minutes, shift your attention to your ankles and shins. Next, focus on bending the knees, followed by the sensation and movement of the hips. Then pay attention to your hands, arms, torso, neck, shoulders, and finally, your head as it moves with each step. Keep examining your body as you walk and notice how the sensations change as you walk.
5. Appreciative walk
By practicing mindful walking, we can shift our perception towards the positive and beautiful in our surroundings. One way to do this is to notice the beauty that surrounds us, like a flowering tree or a beautiful beam of light. We can also focus on changes that occur in our daily way, such as the seasons, sights, sensations, smells, and sounds. What new do you discover every day during your journey? How does it differ at different times of the day or on weekends? Notice and appreciate these details and share them with others or write them in a journal to generate gratitude and appreciation.
6. Walking for observation
As you walk, notice your emotional reactions and how they affect your experience. Experiment with different emotional states and think about how they affect your movement and perception of the environment. Try to walk around in fear, embarrassment, or distraction, then come back at your own pace. Think about how the way you walk affects what you see and how you feel. Your emotional state can affect your movement and perception of your surroundings while walking.
Use the time while you walk to get in touch with your home and where you live. Mindfulness allows you to enjoy the present and explore the outdoors, which is extremely beneficial for your mental health and outlook. enjoy your trip!
See: The Slow Life: The Art of Living Slow and Finding True Happiness
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