Whether you decide to set aside time to go for a walk, or you are going to be walking to run errands – you can bring mindfulness into it. Mindfulness improves stress levels, brain health, heart health, pain, sleep, GI issues and more. Here is a walking mindfulness activity that you can do if you have a 5 minute or a 45 minute walk ahead:

  1. Begin to walk.
  2. Pay attention to how your feet lift and fall. Notice how your arms sway with each step. Notice areas of your body that are thrown into natural movement as you walk. When thoughts come into your mind or as things in your surroundings catch your attention, calmly return your focus to the rhythm of your walk.
  3. Notice your breath and how it changes or remains the same with each movement.
  4. Continue to walk, noticing the sounds around you. Don’t judge the sounds as negative or positive, just bring them to your attention. Feel free to spend time here – when you feel ready, or as time permits, move onto the next step.
  5. Now, as you continue to step one foot after the other, bring your awareness to the smells around you. Once again, feel free to spend time here – when you feel ready, or as time permits move onto the next step. 
  6. Continuing on, notice what you see around you. If you notice your mind wandering, simply redirect your attention to the present – the shapes, colors, and textures you see around you. Tune into that awareness. 
  7. Redirect your attention to either the smells or sounds or simply your breath, your choice,  as you continue to walk – for a few more seconds or minutes. 
  8. Once again, as the mindfulness activity comes to a close, bring your awareness back to your rhythmic walk, noticing your feet, your legs, your shoulders, your arms, and whatever other body part is part of this rhythm.
  9. Now just stand and breathe, set an intention for whatever is going to happen next in your day.

Oftentimes people say, “I don’t have time to meditate,” but just a few minutes of a mindfulness exercise can be impactful. If you are able to redirect your focus to the present moment in order to reap the benefits – you don’t have to choose between walking or practicing mindfulness, or between practicing mindfulness or running an errand. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as long as you choose to make the commitment. Next time you head out for a walk, keep this exercise in mind.

 

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