Mindfully walking outdoors allows us to connect with nature and open ourselves to new perspectives. The practice of mindful walking has been valued in various cultures and is considered a form of mindfulness in movement. Nature has a positive effect on our physical and emotional health. Even short exposure to green spaces can increase happiness and concentration.
Japanese “forest bathing” is a research-backed practice that has gained popularity around the world due to its benefits for the mind and body. Incorporating mindfulness into movement while walking provides mental and physical benefits, alleviating depression and anxiety and improving our overall health. On stressful days, spending time mindfully walking outdoors 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 meditation while mindful walking
Mindful walking meditation is simple and relies on paying attention to the physical sensations while walking. You can raise awareness about different aspects of walking, such as feeling your feet on the ground or the movement of your muscles. Watch subtle changes in your body before, during, and after you start moving, such as your pulse, body temperature, or breathing rate. In practicing mindful walking, you can notice points of stillness where the right step becomes the left step and vice versa. When practicing seated, 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 simple way to focus your attention while walking is to incorporate words or phrases into your steps. You can count your steps, and count down one step at a time when you get distracted, without judging yourself. Another option is to express gratitude or compassion toward your feet and body as you move, or to repeat reminders quietly or internally. You can try 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 into our senses as we move. We can enjoy the precious moments we have outside and moving, focusing on the present. First, notice how your vision changes as you walk and keep your eyes steady. Then focus on the sensations in the soles of your feet, and on the sounds and smells around you as you move.
4. Walk with body awareness
An interesting walking meditation practice is to focus attention on body parts such as scanning a moving body. Start by focusing on the soles of your feet, then after a few minutes shift your attention to your ankles and legs. Next, focus on bending your knees, followed by the sensations and movement of your hips. Then pay attention to your hands, arms, torso, neck, shoulders and finally your head as it moves with each step. Continue to scan your body as you walk and notice how the sensations change as you walk.
5. Discretionary walking
By practicing mindful walking, we can change our outlook towards the positive and beautiful in our environment. One way to do this is to notice the beauty around us, such as a flowering tree or a beautiful ray of light. We can also focus on the changes that occur on our daily path, such as the seasons, images, sensations, smells, and sounds. What new things do you discover every day along the way? How does it differ at different times of the day or on weekends? Notice these details, appreciate them, share them with others or write them down to generate gratitude and appreciation.
6. Walk to observe
As you walk, notice your emotional reactions and how they affect your experience. Experience different emotional states and think about how they affect your movement and perception of the environment. Try walking through fear, embarrassment, or distraction, then return to 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 the surrounding environment while walking.
Use the time while walking to connect with your home and the place 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!
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