Taking a mindful nature walk
The health benefits of getting outside into the fresh air for a walk are widely known, but have you ever slowed your walk down so that it becomes a meditation? Going to a local green area or outside into your garden and paying attention to your inner experience as well as what is around you can bring a deep sense of calm, connection and presence.
Here are my tips for a mindful nature walk:
1) Think about where you would like to walk. This could really be anywhere you choose that is safe. In most urban areas there are trees, small parks or even a churchyard. If you live in an area with lots of green space perhaps you could choose a place you don’t usually visit. You could even take a mindful walk in your garden. Perhaps you are already familiar with some walking routes, maybe you could take one of them in reverse.
2) Breathe. Pay attention to the rhythm of your breath. What do you notice as you breathe in? How does the air feel as it moves down into your lungs? Is it warm or cold? Do you notice any other sensations? What does it feel like as you breathe out? Notice the expansion and contraction of your lungs and chest as you breathe in and out.
3) Slow down. Take this walk at a much slower pace than usual. There is no need to rush, this is time you have taken to nurture yourself. As you begin to move, notice the sensations in your body. What do you feel in your body as you begin to move through space? What do you observe as your foot makes contact with the ground? Does one foot feel different to the other or do they feel similar?
4) Pay attention to your senses.
· What can you see around you? You might pause and focus your attention on a leaf on a tree or the petals on a flower. What does it look like? What is its shape and colour?
· What can you smell? Are there any particular aromas in the air? Is there a nearby plant, tree or flower that you could smell up close?
· What can you hear? When you listen, do any sounds stand out to you? Can you hear birdsong or other animals?
· What can you taste? Does the air have a taste as you breathe in?
· What can you feel? What does it feel like to place your hand on the bark of a tree or to feel some grass between your fingers? What sensations do you notice in your hand and fingers?
5) If your mind wanders, notice without judging yourself and, bring your attention back to your breath.
6) Designate an ending point. When you finish your route take a few big breaths and have a stretch. Notice how your body feels and what thoughts are in your mind.
I hope you can take the opportunity to get outside and connect with your inner self and the natural world soon.