A (mindful) walk on the wild side
What does walking mean to you?
- Is it something you do when all other options are exhausted? A waste of time or perhaps a functional way of getting from A to B?
- Or is it something you savour? Time for yourself? A way to stay healthy? A connection with the outdoors?
Often, we find ourselves walking on ‘autopilot’ – our bodies move, we breath and we arrive at our destination having mulled over what’s happened or about to happen or ruminated on an idea or problem. For me, walking is definitely when I do my best thinking and I believe there is huge value in a purposeful walk as a way to invite perspective and creativity to any conundrum or initiative.
Mindful walking is different. It’s less about the thinking and the destination and more about cultivating awareness of the present moment, of being.
You don’t need a splendid vista or acres of woodland or riverside for mindful walking, although all those things can be amazing. A pavement, park or garden or even your front room can work.
Mindful walking is about tuning in to ourselves and our surroundings, noticing and appreciating the little things – the way the light falls through the trees, the emergence of a new shoot or the way the ground feels under your feet. It’s a sensory treat, a reconnection with what might have become mundane or taken for granted – the act of walking and the space around us.
We all know there are huge health benefits associated with walking, from lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stress to improving our fitness and mental health. Indeed, the World Health Organisation lists it as one of their daily recommended activities.
There is also a host of evidence about the health benefits of mindfulness (have a look at the NHS website as a good starting point: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and-support/mindfulness/) so when walking and mindfulness come together, a whole host of physical and psychological benefits result.
So if you’d like to take a walk on the wild side and spend some time walking mindfully, tune in to my latest podcast from The Outdoor Coach. And if you’d like a copy of the transcript or links to other mindful walking resources, get in touch!
Mindful walking coaching questions
What was the catalyst for you deciding to take a mindful walking exercise?
What do you know about your mental, emotional or physical ‘state’ before you began?
What do you notice about your state after the exercise?
What part did being outdoors play in your exploration?
How will you work in partnership with nature to invite a mindful appreciation into each day?