15 Quiet Minutes: Mindful Walking

In the first 15 Quiet Minutes post I encouraged us to try meditation. This time, I’m going to suggest something a bit more active, because our quiet minutes don’t always have to be spent just sitting still in silence.

Mindful walking can be done anywhere. In fact, I recommend simply walking out your front door and around your neighborhood. If at all possible, leave your phone at home, or if you don’t feel safe without it, at least put it on silent or do not disturb. I hope it goes without saying, but please choose to walk at a time and in a location where you feel safe!

Mindful walking isn’t about getting your heart rate up or getting more steps in for the day, instead it is about walking slowly and being present to the world around you.

Pay attention to the sounds you hear: birds calling, kids laughing, dogs barking, traffic, the wind rustling the leaves. Try not to judge the sounds and think, “The traffic is so loud!” or “Why does my neighbor have to mow her lawn at 8:00 at night?!” Instead, just accept them. They are the sounds of your community, of the world around you.

Next, focus on what you smell. Again, try not to judge good or bad, just notice. Do you smell wet earth? Exhaust fumes? Flowers? Freshly mowed grass?

What do you feel? Notice the warmth of the sun, or the cool evening air, the breeze blowing through your hair,  or the feel of your clothing against your skin. How does the pavement or dirt feel beneath you? How do you shoes and socks feel on your feet?

What do you see? Can you find something new that you never noticed before? Perhaps you hadn’t noticed that you neighbor recently repainted the trim on their house, or the lovely color of the roses at the house on the corner. If you see something really beautiful, try to resist taking a picture of it. Instead, look at it. Really see it. Take you own mental picture of the image. Try to notice what you are hearing, smelling, and feeling as you look at this beautiful sight. You might be amazed by how well you’ll remember something after really paying attention to it!

This is your time, your fifteen minutes out of the day to wander and just be. To observe what is around you without having to judge or analyze it. Your time to be present in your body and in your world.

Try to stay in the moment. If you find your mind wandering to your to-do list, or planning dinner in your head, return your attention to one of your senses. Choose to focus on the feel of each step as you take it, or on the sounds you are hearing around you. You can even choose to focus on a specific sound, like only listening to the birds or the breeze in the trees, or a specific sight, like the way the light hits the leaves, or a sensation, like the feel of each footfall. You could choose this specific focus for a few minutes, or for your entire walk. Center your attention on whatever helps to get you out of your head and back into the present moment.

I hope you’ll give mindful walking a try. I’d love to hear your experiences with the practice. I’m looking forward to taking a mindful walk tonight for my 15 Quiet Minutes practice!

Until next time, blessed be!

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