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Mindful Walking in 10 Steps

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Majority of us in today’s life are constantly running from one place to another, racing with time. This fast paced life pushes me to think of finding easy solutions so I can integrate them into my fast life for continued self-care. For this reason, I would like to teach you “mindful walking” today.

Walking is a great way to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life. When you are walking, it is very easy to slip into a semi-conscious state. You will realize that your legs are moving and your mind is thinking about something else – or many things at once! This 10 Step mindfulness exercise will help you become more present and connect with here and now. This exercise will help you reduce stress, reduce anxiety and it will increase your daily productivity.

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Here are 10 steps for mindful walking:

1. Notice how your body feels – heavy or light, stiff or relaxed? Take a few seconds to become aware of your posture and the way you’re carrying yourself.

2. Do not try to change the way you’re walking, just observe how it feels. Just take a moment to observe yourself walking.

3. Slowly, become aware of what’s going on around you, notice cars, other people, road signals and other things around you.

4. Notice what you see going on around you – people walking, past, shop window displays, cars, advertisements and all the other things you’d expect to see around you. Notice the colors and shapes, the movement and perhaps the stillness too. There’s no need to actually think about what you’re seeing – simply to see it and acknowledge it is enough. Take about thirty seconds to do this.

5. Then turn your attention to sounds. Just take a moment to be aware of them, as though they are just coming and going in your field of awareness. Again, take about thirty seconds to do this.

6. Next turn your attention to smells for thirty seconds. Pay attention to pleasant and unpleasant smells. Do any of these smells bring up a memory?

7. Then, any physical sensations or feelings – warm sunshine, cool rain or a cold breeze. Feel the soles of your feet touching the ground with each step, or the weight of the arms swinging at your side.

8. As you continue to walk, do not avoid anything. Allow every feeling, every thought to come and go through your mind.

9. After thirty seconds or a minute, notice how the weight shifts from the right side to the left side and then back again. Don’t try to change your speed of walking.  Just observe the way you walk and feel your rhythm.

10. Use your rhythm of the walking and the sensation of the soles of your feet touching the ground as your base of awareness, a place you can mentally come back to once you realize the mind has wandered off.

The purpose of this exercise is not to zone yourself out of everything. That would be really hard to do especially when you have a lot going on in your life. The purpose is just to be open to what is going on with your body and your surroundings even if its for 5 minutes a day.

The more you practice this exercise, the more you will realize you will feel mentally better. This is to remind ourselves that sometimes we are so caught up with our thoughts and small details, we hardly notice our body sensations and surroundings. We get into the automatic pilot mode and just live. This exercise will help you reduce stress, increase your ability to concentrate and increase your productivity.

Ipek Aykol, LMFT 97315