The crunching sound of dry brown fallen leaves beneath my feet is the only sound in this moment. There are millions of them and they stretch out as far as the eye can see. Crunching, crunching, crunching. Then a bird announces her presence with a short song while some small animal rustles in the nearby bush.
Somewhere behind me I hear my dog Rose and her little furry white paws running through the leaves. She is the most hyperactive Labrador ever and she appears to be running in every direction possible at the same time.
As I walk by the fallen branches covered with bright green moss, I see sun rays breaking through the naked trees. The forest is almost glowing. It looks magical.
Then it occurs to me for the countless time, one more moment of recognition, one more instant of awe and admiration for life with a capital L – Life is perfect, magnificent, glorious. In this now moment I don’t need anything, nothing is lacking, nothing is missing, everything that I need I have right here and right now. This moment is a pure bliss, joy, and peace.
Although it is winter and we should be having snow already, it seems that the weather is oblivious of that fact. It’s warm and sunny like in an early spring. And I love every second of it.
As I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, I close my eyes and send a little prayer of gratitude for the forest and its beautiful energy.
Amazing benefits of walking
Walking is one of my favorite mindfulness practices. It’s so easy and simple and yet powerful. If you would ask me to recommend only one mindfulness practice, walking would be it.
It is healing on every level – mind, body, and spirit. Especially if it’s a walk in nature. It is a meditation in movement, a connection with your inner self, your soul, the universe and Life itself.
“When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking helps to improve your health and keep you vital, fills you with vitamin D, energizes you, boosts circulation, and increases the oxygen supply to every cell in your body. It also raises your serotonin which makes you feel good and happy and works as an antidepressant.
Being in nature reduces stress and negative emotions, improves your mood, helps you emotionally, and brings calmness and positive feelings. It also helps you on a physical level by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
Being in the here and now
Mindfulness is a way of life. It is a constant returning to the now, to the present moment, over and over again. You don’t need any special practice or tool for that. You can choose to be present in each moment, regardless of what you are doing, where you are, or who you are with. You can choose not to be lost in your thoughts and mind, but to be fully in the here and now.
Mindfulness is a constant returning to the now, over and over again. You don’t need any special practice or tool for that. You can choose to be present in each moment, regardless of what you’re doing, where you are, or who you’re with.
Mindfulness is a self-mastery, expansion of consciousness, change of perspective and attention from outward to inward.
However, that said, there are some mindfulness practices that can help you get there, that can help you develop a habit of mindfulness. Walking is one of them.
Mindful walking practice
When you go for a walk, wear something comfortable so you can fully enjoy it. If you can, go for a walk in nature, somewhere away from the traffic, because this is a great way to connect more with nature. It also makes your walk a more pleasurable experience.
Start your walk at your normal pace, there is no need to rush anywhere. There is also no need for a specific destination as the walk itself is the purpose.
Become aware of your body, of your feet touching the ground, of sounds and smells that surround you, sensations that you feel on your skin, everything that you see around you. Notice your posture, your movements, your breathing. Observe the present moment and everything that is in it.
When you notice that you drifted away into your mind, observe your thoughts, emotions, and moods without any judgment and without any extra story. Just observe what is happening and gently focus your attention back to your body, back to the walking.
Pay attention to your environment; notice what is there. If you are in nature, connect with it, let it heal you, immerse yourself in that pure reviving energy.
Walk for however long it feels comfortable for you – 10, 20, 30 minutes or more if you like.
Come back to the here and now
Mindful walking is a practice – something you will get better at over time.
At first, your mind could be overactive and you maybe notice that your autopilot took over and you came home without even realizing it. That is okay, in time, your mind will become quieter.
Whenever you notice that your mind drifted away, just come back to yourself, come back to the here and now, come back to your body. Soon you will notice this more often and more quickly.
“All is well”
Your thoughts will not disappear, nor your “negative” feelings. That is not the point of any mindfulness practice. The point is to become aware of them, and with that awareness detach from them, let them go without interacting with them – without the story and inner monologs.
Sure, the story will be told many times, your inner monologs will have their Oscar-worthy lines, and you will feel anxiety, worry, and concern countless times more.
However, in time, they will appear less and less and you will be able to quickly shift your perspective, detach from them and more easily choose to be mindful in every aspect of your life. Inner peace, serenity, and contentment will become prevailing feelings and “All is well” your new viewpoint on life.
Until next time,