Mindfulness is an important part of our Ecotherapy groups. There are opportunities to pay attention to the present moment through sensing the natural surroundings here at St Nicks or by getting absorbed in the group activities such as nature writing, walking, gardening and woodworking. Find out more about mindfulness in nature from our Ecotherapy tutor Freya Lovett who writes about Living in the Moment in her blog which includes a lovely ‘Sit Spot’ meditation or try some Mindful Walking below from our Nordic Walking tutor Michelle Cairns.
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.
Mindfulness is a method of decluttering the mind in order to reduce stress, tension and anxiety. It requires you to focus on the moment rather than all the thoughts that race through our minds. It is very easy to practice mindfulness during walking because of its repetitive and rhythmical nature. Being active outdoors and practicing mindfulness is a great fit and a way to improve emotional resilience.
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 neighbourhood. 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.