Has it taken this period of lockdown, over these last couple of months for you to find the pleasure that you can feel from walking outdoors, discovering the nature that is right on your doorstep or even in your own back garden? finding the new winding pathways to and from the shops, a gently trickling stream that flows into a never noticed before pond, a peculiar looking old tree amongst the others in the woods or someone else's beautifully kept garden, with lower polution levels and less tiny particles floating in the air the skies have been bluer and the stars in the night sky brighter.
Even a brief nature fix of 10 minutes can lower our stress and anxiety levels, these amazing benefits we feel, could be maximised by us spending longer moments connecting to and with nature, the more of our senses we use, our sight, the sounds we hear, the aromas we smell, the things we touch and even taste, the positive effects we receive from utilising our senses whilst out in the natural world will show in our physical and emotional health.
Mindful walking can help us to be present in the moment, stay in the here and now by focusing on how we feel and whats happening around us. It simply means walking while being aware of each step you take and being mindful of the breath, it can be done at anytime and anywhere that you may find yourself, alone or with other people, start by walking a little slower than usual, bringing your attention firstly to the physical sensations that you feel in the whole of your body as your feet touch the floor with every step that you take, feel how your feet adjust to the even or uneven surface beneath them, how your balance may change as you slow down your pace. Also spend a little time noticing how you feel emotionally whilst walking, no judgement here just noticing. Maybe try walking barefoot to feel the different textures in between your toes and on the soles of your feet, how do your arms feel naturally swinging gently to counter balance your steps. As with other mindful practices your mind will wander and when it does bring your focus back to the sensations that you are feeling in that moment. Maybe when you feel comfortable walking, you could choose a focal point slightly ahead of you, you may even choose to stop there, now shift your attention away from your body to what is surrounding you, seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, how does the weather feel on your face? what colours and shapes do you see?, the sounds that you can hear near and far, spend several moments here just noticing, as each experience comes into your awareness, acknowledge it and then let it pass like gentle clouds in the sky, you can stop walking whenever you feel the time is right for you,
With so much going on in the world around us, it may seem tough to get rid of all the noise that goes on inside our heads, the stress and anxiety that arises when we worry about those that we love and care about, so continue (or start) to reap all the benefits from your mindful walks in nature, the phyiscal exercise experience can help to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, create feelings of wellbeing, provide better sleep patterns, improve mood and lower stress and anxiety.
Most of all enjoy your mindful walks, you'll be amazed at all the things that you've never even noticed before, so smile to yourself and smile at others that you'll meet on the way.