“When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
What you need: Yourself and space to move. It’s a walk but this doesn’t even mean there needs to be a destination. As a family, we try to practise mindfulness in everyday life. I don’t always find this easy and I do need reminders, so please don’t think I’m saying this from a position of complete enlightenment!
When we are walking we generally try to keep very present about where we are; things that can help you with this are to point out trees, the colours of leaves or different buildings, or ask what does the sky look like today – is it cloudy or blue, can you hear a bird or a train, or is there a pretty wildflower growing through a crack in the pavement? Keep the dialogue between you and your kids going, as you walk around freely, or you can even do this en route to school or the shops.
The other day, I found my tone escalating as I shouted ‘Mabel! MaBEL! MABEL!’ as she smelled a rose on the side of the street. I was pushing Peggy in her pram, it was hot, I had a bag of heavy shopping and we had a long walk home ahead of us. I was irritated that she wasn’t listening, I had anxiety about cars passing by too fast, I was calculating in my head that if we stopped at everything we passed we’d not be home for hours and I had work to do – my anxiety was stopping me from being present and I did not handle this as I’d have liked.
I needed to check in, breathe and remind myself of the incredible beauty in her stopping to smell a rose – I mean, it’s literally a phrase! If I could go back to that walk and make a change that I could remember for such future situations, it would be to stop, put down the shopping and join her in that moment and in her joy.
Checklist for your mindful walk:
- Do you have to be at your destination at a certain time, or can you take it slow? Is there any destination at all or can you go with the flow?
- Are you dressed appropriately for the weather today? So you don’t have to rush home if it rains?
- As soon as you leave your front door, the walk has started. What can you observe right away? Is there a gate to open, a stony path to tread or a bird overhead?
- Has everyone taken some deep breaths in and out, filling their lungs with fresh air?
- Seek joy along the way. It will crop up in the most unlikely places