Walking comes so naturally to us that we often don’t even notice it. Its general benefits are quite well known – improving circulation, getting our heart pumping, burning fat, strengthening bones and muscles, and boosting energy levels. So, what if we combine mindfulness with walking? Then it turns into a form of moving meditation that sharpens our senses, reduces stress, and can even prevent inflammation in the body.
What is mindful walking?
Mindful walking involves trying to focus only on walking, while being fully present – so no listening to music or talking on the phone or any other distractions. The journey is the goal: it’s about maintaining awareness of what’s happening to us as we walk. This exercise is especially helpful when we feel stressed or restless. We calm down internally, think more clearly and are more present – any time and anywhere.
Why does it have such a positive effect on our body and mind?
We know the benefits of physical activity on our physical and mental health. But what happens when we add a dose of mindfulness? It reduces stress in the mind and body, which, in turn, can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Mindful walking – or the more active version, mindful running – can result in better sleep with an increased sense of wellbeing.
Try our 4-step mindful walking meditation guide
The benefits of mindful walking are in its simplicity. You just need 10 to 20 minutes for a walking meditation. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in nature or in the city, as long as you’re focused on the walk.
01 Be aware of your body and mind
Start the walking meditation by becoming aware of how you feel right now – physically as well as mentally. How is your posture? How is the weight of your body distributed on your feet? Which muscles are you using? Start to feel your body moving.
02 Focus on your breath
A conscious breath forms the basis of our attention. When your thoughts wander, gently direct them back to your breathing. Repeating this mantra can help: “Let go!” Breathe in through your nose and silently say to yourself “Let”; then breathe out through your mouth “Go”.
03 Strengthen your presence
Walk more slowly than usual and notice how your steps feel on the ground. Then direct your focus to your senses: what does the air smell like? Do you feel the wind, raindrops, or sun on your skin? What do you see and hear?
04 Reflect afterwards
After the walking meditation, stop for a moment, close your eyes (if possible) and breathe deeply. Through the movement, mindfulness, and conscious breathing, you may feel as if you’ve hit the reset button – fresh, clear, and calm.
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