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Take a walk on the 'mindful' side

Often people are surprised to hear that mindful walking is an option for practicing mindfulness. In fact, it is the most common meditation posture after sitting. In meditation centres outdoor paths are often built for waking meditation. On retreats mindful walking is often alternated with periods of sitting and contributes to cultivating a calm and clear mindfulness of the present moment. Some people enjoy this form of practice right away, for others it’s more of an acquired taste. If the latter is the case, I’d encourage you to persevere as it can create a bridge between mindfulness practice and daily life helping us be more present in the simplicity of everyday activities.

Instructions for mindful walking in 3 stages

Stage 1

Begin by standing tall (similar to mountain pose in yoga) becoming aware of the body, the contact of the feet with the ground, take one or two deep breaths and begin to walk at a moderate pace. Direct your attention to the sensations in the legs, the feel of clothes against the skin, the movement of each leg with each step. If the mind wanders simply return to the sensations in the legs. Continue for about 5 minutes.

Stage 2

Now drop your speed further and focus your attention on the feet, the feel of the socks and shoes, the sensations of each foot with each step. You may like to say to yourself, “step, step…” or “left, right, left…” to assist in keeping the focus anchored on the feet and thus in the present moment. Again if the mind wanders or other distractions divert your focus, notice and return your focus to the feet. Continue for about 5 minutes.

Stage 3

Now at an even slower pace direct your attention to the soles of the feet, as each foot lifts, glides and drops with every step, feeling all there is to feel coming from the sensations in the soles of the feet. Should the mind wander, again when you notice this has happened, return focus to the soles of the feet. Continue for about 5 minutes. At the end of the practice come to a stop, again assume an upright posture becoming aware of the body standing still and notice any changes that have occurred in the body or mind from the start of the practice and now at the end.

Take this sense of present moment awareness into the next thing you do,

happy mindful walking.

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