Stress less with mindful walking
Accomplish mental and physical activity through this upcoming practice.
Mindfulness is a practice that is becoming popular to reduce stress. One activity that almost anyone can do to moderate stress is mindful walking. Walking meditation is a way to practice moving without a goal or intention. For many, this is a more practical way to relax verses sitting quietly with our eyes closed. Mindful walking can help us be present in the moment and focus on the happenings around us.
Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. It can be done anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in an office or neighborhood. Mindful breathing and walking meditation can be done between business meetings or in the parking lot of the supermarket.
To begin, take your eyes to a point that is in front of where you place your feet. Start by walking slower than usual. Notice the sensation of your foot as it touches the ground; how it feels when your left foot touches the ground, then how it feels when you lift your right foot and swing it forward to begin the next step. Take your time, the goals is to pay attention. Find a pace that is comfortable to you and puts you at ease.
Now shift your attention away from your body to what is around you. Walk around for about five minutes and acknowledge any experience that arises. This may be a sensation such as noticing the temperature of the wind or feeling the ground change under your feet. Or it may be a feeling of boredom, contentment or annoyance. As each experience appears in your awareness, acknowledge it without engaging with it, and let it go. You can stop walking whenever you wish.
Mindful walking has many benefits. Not only are there physical benefits of walking in itself but mindful walking can reduce blood pressure and heart rate, create feelings of wellbeing, provide better sleep, improve mood and manage stress.
Michigan State University Extension will begin to offer a program called “Stress Less with Mindfulness” fall 2014 that provides participants how to incorporate mindfulness in their daily lives. MSU Extension also offers RELAX: Alternative to Anger as another option around stress and anger management. For classes offered near you go to http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events.