During the weekend, I had a peaceful, solitary retreat to Walter’s Falls. I stayed at an Inn overlooking the small waterfall and spent my days reading, studying, writing and mostly – hiking along the Bruce Trail!
Walking along in fairy land is definitely a great place for a hike. And I definitely enjoyed the beauty and peace during many a walking meditation. And yet, it also reminded me that mindful walks can be part of every day – not just when you happen upon a sun-dappled path that leads through moss and ferns along a gently chuckling stream.
This instalment of your resources newsletter helps you capture exactly that – even on a busy street or in a sterile hallway.
Mindfulness goes beyond meditation. It also goes beyond living in the moment.
It embraces a set of attitudes that you bring with you – deliberately – into this moment. These attitudes determine what beliefs and thoughts your hold in your mind in the moment, even which part of the brain is in control! And this creates your state.
Your state determines so much of your life and how you see reality. The good news is, that as you develop your emotional intelligence – through coaching and your mindful practice – you more easily manage your emotions and your state.
The formal practice of mindfulness allows us to access those attitudes in our daily life when they will be of most benefit.
What are those Mindfulness attitudes?
- Letting go and letting be
- And especially today – beginner’s mind.
So looking back at how these attitudes result in your state – imagine the difference between an attitude of trust vs fear or how different you show up when your mind is fixed vs when you open up to curiosity.
Deliberately building the new neurology of inner awareness and inner control truly allows you to experience life differently. That neurology is built in the formal practice but of most value “out there”.
So, although sometimes you may feel like mindfulness is a delicate thing that needs to be quietly and gently tended…
This flies in the face of the reality of why and when, we need mindfulness most… in those loud, crazy, unexpected and stressful times. That is when we need to be truly present with all of our resources. Not triggered into anxiety or reactivity. With the ability to use a fraction of time to be totally present, totally poise, totally resourced and able to choose if and how to respond (notice the difference from reaction?).
Mindful walking is a fabulous reminder that mindfulness is a resource state that moves with us. It is (literally, lol) a great next step in your mindfulness journey. Embracing the additional stimuli, the sounds, the smells, the movement.
There are many ways to “do” mindful walking. Remember, mindfulness isn’t about relaxation (though that will often happen) or about achieving anything. In fact, it is more truly about achieving nothing. At least just now.
So today, I invite you to take a hike. Anywhere. This is not about seeking beauty and solitude. If you can only hike the hallways of your building or a busy street block, that is perfectly okay. In fact, choose a familiar location that you spend time in every day or week.
Here is the trick… the worksheet today is a secret. Don’t download it until after your walk.
No music, no MP3, no walking partner. Just you, out in the world, being mindfully present and holding those attitudes of mindfulness.
When you find yourself distracted, thank yourself for noticing (maybe with some humour and self-compassion and non-judgement!) and re-focus. You may want to focus on the sensations of your toes or the air on your cheek. You may want to focus on the breath for a few moments. Remember that it is the deliberate returning to the present moment that is the exercise.
Okay? Let’s go. To start your walk, stand up and bring your awareness to the feeling of your feet. In your first steps feel the motion of your feet flexing and moving you forward. Notice how your legs, hips and arms and back all move together to propel you forward.
You may want to keep your gaze lowered for part, or all of your walk. Just be careful around traffic!
Then as you walk, open out your awareness to each of your senses. Okay, stop reading and go. When you are back, print off the worksheet and spend 5 minutes in reflection.
See you in half an hour.