Mindfulness is gaining successful momentum across many applications in the U.S., as well as on college campuses, including our own Redbird home where mindfulness classes take place on a consistent basis. Mindfulness has historic longevity rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism as well as possibly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a name that most people recognize as bringing mindfulness to the U.S., founding the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where Kabat-Zinn focuses on using mindfulness for stress reduction. Mindfulness practice can instill awareness without judgement, immersing you into the present moment.

Defining Mindfulness

Simply put, mindfulness teaches us to live more in the present and less in the past or future where regrets or anxieties may reside. It works by helping us become aware of the present experience without judgement. Mindfulness is intended to be practiced and cultivated over the course of time reaping several benefits.

Mindfulness Perks

The benefits of mindfulness can include reducing stress, having a positive domino effect in addressing high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as gastrointestinal, sleep, and chronic pain issues. Additionally, mindfulness can help regulate emotions, our responses to others, and improve our outlook and satisfaction with the experience we call “life” on a daily basis. Once you experience mindfulness, you might think of it as a gift that always has the capacity to give in so many contexts of life. It’s simple, portable, and with practice can be implemented by the owner operator (you) at any given moment, including walking.

How to Get Started With Mindful Walking

Mindful walking, also known as a walking meditation, allows you the time and opportunity to be immersed in your own awareness while strengthening your mindfulness muscle. Maintaining awareness while connecting your feet with the ground is of key focus while walking.

Mindful walking is a great alternative if you are a person who is not quite ready to sit still or falls asleep during mindful meditation. Additionally, it’s another activity you can add to an existing mindfulness practice. Getting mindful walking off to a positive start is important. Beginning with five minutes and working your way up to what is comfortable for you is a practical and realistic approach. The following tips can help you experience walking mindfulness in an easily applicable manner.

  • Begin with standing still, doing some slow deep relaxing breaths, allowing yourself to pause and become present with the moment.
  • Let your feet become grounded with the earth or floor you are standing on. Press your heels into your shoes.
  • Take notice of the sensations in your body and how you are standing. If there is any part of your body that is tense, breathe the tension out.
  • Begin to walk slowly, easefully breathing naturally and deeply from your belly while you walk.
  • Maintain awareness of the heel-to-toe rhythm as your feet make contact with the ground below.
  • Gently engage your eyes on your surroundings as you walk.
  • Should your focus on the sensations of breathing and walking become interrupted by thoughts or emotions, simply see them without any judgement, and guide your awareness back to the breathing and walking.
  • Slow down your walk when you are ready to end your mindful walking and stop when comfortable.
  • Again, return to being grounded in your standing position.
  • Breathe in deeply a few times finishing out your mindful session.

Mindfulness doesn’t always come easily to some. As with most things, the more you practice the more mastery you gain. Eventually, you will see the effects of mindfulness spill over into other parts of your life, improving the quality and experience of your life with yourself and others. Or as the author Holly B. Rogers, M.D. states in her poignant book chapter title, “This is your life. Don’t miss it.”

Consider joining the upcoming mindfulness classes on campus if you are interested in learning more about the practice.

Resources to Explore

Mindful Walking Practice Source: https://chopra.com/articles/mindful-walking-practice-how-to-get-started