Walking as Mindfulness

Mindfulness in everyday life is a big topic in my work with patients. Most of the time walking is utilitarian: we go from point A to B. Our mind is focused on our destination, what we aim to do when we get there, or various other concerns. Even when out for a stroll in the park or nature, we can find our attention captured by thoughts, engrossed in conversation, or lost in planning. How often do we miss hearing the birdsong, or seeing a tree in bloom, because we are absorbed in something else?

When we can learn to walk with full awareness (mindfulness), ambulation can become a force for soothing and training our minds to dwell more completely in the present. In fact, mindful walking confers a pretty wide range of benefits, including decreasing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD:

  • It strengthens concentration and focus.
  • It can help release worries or concerns about the past and future.
  • It can facilitate creativity and new ideas.
  • Mindful walking can calm difficult emotions; it lifts mood and calms anxiety.
  • It increases mindfulness and all of its positive effects.
  • Walking is great for physical health and digestion.
  • You can do it anywhere.

There are many ways to walk. This is a walking mindfulness that I teach patients, but walking has infinite possibilities.

First, walk while keeping your eyes still and watching the view change as shapes and objects shift in and out of your line of vision.

Next, focus just on the soles of your feet, aware of different sensations there as the surface changes.

Then, focus on sounds. Those of your own footsteps, as well as the changing sounds in the world around you as you move.

Lastly, focus on smells and tastes in the air, and how they change depending on where you are.

If desired, you can add a personal mantra as you step. Mine is: No One to Be.

See also Stones Across the River, or Mindfulness as Practice.

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

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