Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 8: Mindful Walking

Posted on August 5, 2013 by Kira Kenley

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Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Take a mindful walk

IMG_0290Walking is a great form of exercise. It gets the heart beating so that we breathe deeply and oxygenate our moving bodies.  Just 20 minutes of walking can alleviate stress and quiet an agitated mind.

And mindful walking can deepen that experience

Exercise 8: Take A Mindful Walk.

Warm up: Just go outside and get some air and walk, one foot in front of the other. Walk at your own pace and be aware of your surroundings; the sights, the sounds, the smells. Take it all in.

  1. Mindful walking or what zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls “walking meditation” can be practiced outdoors or inside if the weather puts you off going out. Go barefoot if you are inside and if possible outside on grass or sand. If barefoot isn’t possible, wear shoes that give your feet and toes plenty of room to spread.
  2. Stand with  spine erect, shoulders relaxed, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Make your breathing longer, slower and deeper. Breathe out any unnecessary tension, smile.
  3. Let your attention sink lower,  into your belly, hips, legs and feet. Feel your connection to the earth through both feet. Focus your gaze gently on the ground in front of you. Begin to coordinate your breathing with steps. As you breathe in, step forward with your left foot; as you breathe out, step forward with your right foot. Stretch out your feet and toes completely, allowing the sole of your feet to feel the full step, in contact with the ground, from start to finish.
  4. Repeat.
  5. After a little while, take two steps for each inhale, and two for each  exhale. Then build to three. Keep your pace  slow, much slower than your habitual walking pace. Feel each step deeply.
  6. Walk this way, slowly, enjoying each step, with no thought of going anywhere, except going for a mindful walk. Hold yourself in the space.
  7. Don’t worry if  feels awkward at first. We’re not trained to pay close attention. That’s what you’re doing here, teaching yourself to pay attention. With some practice, it  starts to feel more natural.
  8. When you feel your thoughts wander, bring them back to your feet touching the earth. To your breath, moving in and out of your belly.  Be where you are.
  9. If you wish, add the mantra from Inspiration Meditation: ~ know ~ your ~truth ~in ~ me ~ open ~ through ~ allow ~ it ~ be. 
  10. Little by little, incorporate this practice into your daily life, taking a few slow, mindful steps, a few slow mindful breaths, your feet, in Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, “kissing the earth”, whenever you think of it.

If you’d like to know more about this ancient practice in the Buddhist tradition, you can read this free download: Three Expositions on Walking Meditation

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