Do you ever arrive without knowing how you got there? Follow these steps to be more aware and appreciate the journey.
Much of the time we live our lives on automatic pilot.
Perhaps you’ve done this: you walk in the city, hurrying to get to your next appointment. Your attention is caught up in thinking about your next meeting, worrying about your last one, and dreaming about how you’ll spend the proceeds of a win on the lottery (or whatever your own favourite day-dream is).
Then you arrive where you’re going and you suddenly realise that you don’t know how you got there. You’ve no recollection of what happened along the way. You just left A, got to B, and in-between is just a blank. You were on auto-pilot.
Now it’s great to be able to do some things without thinking about them, but if you live your life in this way, then you’re not really present for it. Our lives are just a succession of passing moments, and if we’re not present for those moments, if we don’t show up for them, then we don’t really lead our lives at all.
We miss out on so much: the feel of the sun on our skin, the breeze on our face, the scents on the air… and the fleeting expression on our child’s face that tells us that he or she’s got something important to tell us but they don’t know how to.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn
When we’re on automatic pilot, we can fall into habits of thinking that are unhelpful and lead to stress. By becoming more aware, from moment to moment, of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, as well as the world around you, you give yourself the possibility of greater freedom and more choice.
Mindfulness is the skill that enables us to make conscious choices about how we respond to other people and the situations that we find ourselves in. It means spending less time repeating habitual patterns of behaviour or putting energy into false images of ourselves or the future.
By becoming more aware, from moment to moment, of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, as well as the world around you, you give yourself the possibility of greater freedom and more choice.
Guide To Mindful Walking
Step 1: To begin
Stand upright, with your knees unlocked, and allow your weight to settle. Feel the support of the ground
Step 2: The world around you
Now begin to walk, becoming aware of the world around you. What’s in your sense-world, right now? What sights, sounds, smells? What touch?
As best you can, being mindful of each step you take, feel the sensations of walking. Your heel, striking the ground, your weight rolling forward on the ball of your foot, the movement of muscles in your leg, the shifting pattern of weight across your body.
Step 3: Your inner experience
Now, bring the focus of awareness to your inner experience. What thoughts are here, right now? What feelings? What bodily sensations? As best you can, bring an attitude of kindly acceptance to whatever comes into your mind. Just allow it to be there. Let your mind be what it is – as you walk.
Step 4: The breath
When you are ready, gently direct your attention to the breath. As best you can, follow each breath – all the way in and all the way out. Keep walking. Following the breath in this way can bring you into the present. It can help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness in this moment, while you walk.
Step 5: The body
Let the field of your awareness expand to include a sense of the breath in the body as a whole. If you find any areas of discomfort, you might try taking your awareness there by “breathing in to them” on the in-breath.
Then, as best you can, breathe out from those sensations, softening and opening with the out-breath. And keep walking. When your mind wanders, as it will surely do, just become aware of where it went and then gently and kindly return your attention to the sensations involved in walking.
Step 6: Finally
Let your awareness expand outwards to your environment. Let it move inwards – check out your breath, your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
Allow your awareness to move about in this way. Now inside, now outside. Now with the breath, now with the sensations of walking. As best you can, bring your expanded awareness into the next part of your day.
When you are mindful, you can respond to situations with choice, rather than react automatically. You do not have to go down the same old mental ruts that perhaps caused problems in the past.
More aware of your physical sensations and your state of mind, you can learn more effective ways of handling your moods and feelings. You can change your experience, connecting to a wider space, a broader perspective.
- Download a free guided walking .mp3
- Download a handy pocket guide [pdf]
- Learn more about Mindful Solutions
This article was originally published by Mindful Solutions. Visit their website to learn more.
Will you give mindful walking a try on your next journey? Share your thoughts in the comments!