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Are you aware of how you are walking?

7 steps towards a mindful walk

With our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, people are constantly telling us to walk more. There are plenty of mobile apps that help you to reach your required number of steps per day. Some people even obsess over it. And while daily movement is important for your overall health, I’d like to ask you to set aside the amount of steps you're taking and take a look at how you’re walking for once. Are you always going somewhere? Do you often feel rushed, maybe? It might be time to try something else. Below, I’ve listed 7 steps you can take towards a mindful walk.

mindful walk mindful wandeling
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

#1. Find a place to walk.

The first thing you need is a place to walk, obviously. The most important thing is that it is a quiet place where you don’t constantly run into other people. This is pretty much impossible to find outside if you live in the city, so unless you are fortunate enough to live somewhere secluded (like a deserted island), try a room in your house or your apartment building. As long as it is spacious enough to walk at least ten steps in a circle or a straight line, you’re good. Walking indoors has an additional benefit: you can do it barefoot, which apparently increases the effects of the exercise significantly.

#2. Don’t stare, just look.

Where conventional meditation practices usually require you to close your eyes, we really would not recommend taking a walk with your eyes shut. Not even when you’re just walking circles in a field with nothing to bump into. It’s best to direct your gaze a little bit in front of your feet. Make sure you’re not fixated on anything in particular; just look, softly.

#3. Focus on your breath.

Similar to what you would do when starting out with conventional meditation, direct your attention to your breath. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Take notice of how your breathing feels.

#4. Be aware of your movements.

Aside from your breath, also be aware of the sensations you experience with each movement. Feel how your weight shifts when you put one foot in front of the other. How the ground feels beneath your feet. This should be more intense when you’re walking barefoot.

#5. Acknowledge any feelings that may arise.

While you should be aware of your movements, try to think of them primarily as some sort of reference point; your main focus should be on the feelings that arise while making those movements.

#6. Move slower than you normally would.

Try moving slower (and with smaller steps) than you would during a regular walk around the block; this helps to deepen your meditative state.

#7. When your mind starts to wander, come back to yourself.

Your mind will inevitably start to wander. Don’t worry about it. It is completely normal for your thoughts to drift off to the past or the future, especially when you’re new to the whole mindfulness thing. Once you notice your focus is waning, gently bring yourself back to the now and continue the rest of your mindful walk.

Final thoughts

Once you get the hang of it, you can try and take your mindful walk outside. Maybe you’ll even start to apply the same principles to when you’re walking around the office, the supermarket or the train station. Once you learn to direct your focus and be fully present, any walk can become a mindful walk.

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