Posted by Janelle Martel on
Mindfulness is something that I'm really passionate about sharing. I find it really helpful with anxiety and stress relief, and it's also great for improving focus, reducing depression, and boosting confidence. Mindfulness has to do with being present in the moment and noticing thoughts, feelings, and different sensations without placing judgement on them. One of the easiest ways I find to practice mindfulness is to take a walk.
When you're walking, it's so easy to get caught up on getting to your destination or get distracted by things like your smartphone. When you take a walk that's focused on mindfulness, you'll be able to notice the different things around you, which helps you feel more connected to the sensations in your body. Eventually, this also opens you up more to what you're thinking and feeling. For a mindfulness walk, I suggest going through a park or other natural area first because I find that this is just really calming and much easier to ease into mindfulness, but anywhere works. You can definitely bring your smartphone along for emergencies, but try not to listen to music or check your phone and instead be present and aware. If you have a dog, this is a great thing to practice during your dog walking time.
Sight is probably the sense we're used to using most when walking (obviously!). However, how often are we focused on looking straight ahead of us or even looking down at our feet when walking? Instead, I encourage you to really look around at your surroundings. If you're in a place you're familiar with, you might start to notice things that have changed, like somebody painting their house or taking a tree down. Take time to take in the different colors of everything that surrounds you.
Listening is kind of funny. It seems like you'd always hear what's going on around you, but it's really easy to tune out and not really notice the sounds around you. Nature sounds are my favourite to listen to, but just noticing the sounds around you and their repetition can be really calming. I love listening to the sound of my feet on the ground and the rhythm of my dog's collar. You'll begin to recognize that there are so many sounds occurring around us.
This one is a little more difficult, because there aren't always discerning scents around or flowers to sniff :) But, I really love taking a deep inhale of fresh air. I really focus on breathing in and exhaling, and imagine the air filling my nose and my lungs.
This really helps you to get in touch with the sensations in your body. Think about how the air feels on any exposed skin - is it cool or warm? You might also feel the warmth of the sun on certain parts of your body, or rain. I also think it's important to notice how the ground feels beneath your feet. Is it solid cement, or are you on a rocky or softer path? Notice how it feels each time you take a step. Try not to rush through your walk, but instead move purposefully.
As you're walking, you might notice that you have certain thoughts creep into your mind, be it something you have to do later or something you are worried about. This is totally fine. The important thing, is to acknowledge that thought but to not put any sort of judgement on it. This is a time to look at what you might be thinking or feeling without categorizing it as good or bad. You can do the problem-solving later if necessary, but now is just a time to get in touch with yourself.