Meditation basics

Go stretch your legs: Taking a mindful walk

You don’t have to live in pristine nature to enjoy the benefits of a mindful walk.

There’s no doubt that for the last several months, we’ve all been feeling the pressure. Just when we think there couldn’t be one more thing, here it comes—wave upon wave, layer on top of layer. But if we’ve learned one thing from Mother Nature, it’s that great pressure makes diamonds. We are being squeezed into a new form by the conditions that surround us, but we will emerge stronger, clearer, and more empathetic than ever.

After months of quarantine, things are starting to open up. We know that there are major concerns and some areas are seeing new spikes in COVID cases, but we also know that we’re much less likely to contract the virus while we’re outside. So maybe now is the time to head outdoors, stretch our legs, and enjoy a walk around the block (while wearing our masks, of course).

You don’t have to live in pristine nature to enjoy the benefits of a mindful walk. No matter your surroundings, you can still enjoy the gentle movement of your body, the uptick in the rhythm of your breathing, and the invigorating benefits of the fresh air. There’s no doubt that just a few minutes of walking helps to clear the head. It’s a technique that’s been used by thousands of people for thousands of years, and it’s just as true today.  

Your walk can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a few hours. The rate and pace are up to you. You can walk by yourself, with a friend, or even in a big group. What really matters is that with everything that is commanding our schedules right now, we take the time. A little walk can create a lot of space.

A 5-minute mindful walking practice

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes so you can move freely. If you have the Glo app for iOS, pull up the meditation timer and set it for five minutes, with one-minute interval chimes.
  2. Spend two minutes walking at your normal pace, allowing your blood to flow while taking some deep, clearing breaths. Be aware of your surroundings: Where can you notice beauty? What surrounding sounds can you let in?
  3. Slow your pace down, bringing your attention to the bottom of your feet. Slow down even further so you can feel your heel make contact with the earth, then the ball of your foot. Feel your heel lifting as you place the next foot down, continuing to notice each point of contact. Take one minute to walk in super slow motion, just noticing your feet lifting up and coming back down. 
  4. Begin to synch your steps with your breath. On the inhale, lift one foot up and, on the exhale, place it down in front of you. Lift the other foot on the next inhale, place it down in front of you as you exhale. Continue in slow motion for one minute.
  5. Take one last minute to return to your natural pace, knowing that your sensory and breath awareness are always there. Walk a little quicker, knowing that this is energizing you.

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