Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindful walking is a wonderful way to calm the mind and help you release unhelpful thoughts. It’s particularly useful when you are in transition and feeling anxious as you walk from one place to another, perhaps walking from the car to the office or to your front door or even walking into a staff meeting. Although, in our current lock-down I’ve been using it as I walk around the garden or even marching on the spot.
Ideally, find a place that is quiet, where you can take up to 15 steps in any direction, and practice next to a wall just in case you lose your balance since you will be moving more slowly than normal. If you are restricted with space then try walking on the spot and perhaps use a chair or table to maintain your balance.
There are 2 ways to carry out mindful walking, each one lasts between 3 and 5 minutes.
Ground-surfing with INTENTION
As you prepare to walk, set an intention for each step and movement you take. This can be a mental intention, said silently. For example, you can set the intention to “take a step with my right foot”, after which you will follow up by taking that step. As you take the step you will observe and notice very closely how it feels as your foot lifts up, moves forward, touches down and even how it feels as you shift the weight from one side of the body to the other.
In other words, this is really a simply three-step process of:
1. Setting an intention.
2. Following up with an action.
3. Noticing and observing the movement in detail.
It’s that easy. Usually you can set an intention for each step and also set an intention for every time that you turn the body in a new direction. That mental intention can be stated just as “turning, turning”.
Ground-surfing with FULL PRESENCE
You don’t need to think of anything or set any mental intention. Instead, you will imagine placing your full awareness in the body itself. It’s as if your consciousness moves into your legs and feet, and you can notice each little movement and be fully engaged with it, just as if you were a surfer riding a wave in Hawaii. Only this time you’re surfing the ground, noticing every little change in how your feet contact the carpet, wood, or grass that you walk on.
See how each surface impacts how you surf it.
Let your body and movement become fluid and immerse yourself.
Which of the 2 methods helped your stay fully present with each movement?
Which slowed down the busy anxious mind?
When would be a good time to practice this? How could you adapt this practice to help manage anxiety during this time of uncertainty?
How would could you create a daily mindful movement practice? What would it look like?
I recorded this on a blowy day at Whitley Bay Beach. It was great as a mindfulness exercise at the time and I use it regularly now to focus on the sounds. However, you wish to use it, I hope you find it useful.
Guided Visualisation - Your Perfect Place
How Do You Greet Your Inner-Critic?
We all have an inner-critic; yet for some this inner-critic has become over active and can stop us from living the life we want to live.
It will chip away at our self-belief and self-confidence often leading to self-doubt and self-sabotage.
Generally, our standard response is to either try to ignore it or fight with it. Unfortunately, that only makes it stronger.
Fighting a battle that we will never win is exhausting.
There is a different way, a different response.
What if you welcomed your inner-critic? What if you welcomed it as you would welcome guests to your home? What if you showed it compassion? What if you accepted that it means well and is only trying to look after you?
Using this approach helped me develop a productive relationship with my inner-critic and allowed me to develop my inner-cheerleader.
It isn’t a new concept. The poem The Guest House is based on the 13th Century work of Rumi. I memorised this poem and use it as a reminder that I don’t need to fight my inner-critic; a reminder that my inner-critic is trying to take care of me; a reminder that there is learning and growth in everything that comes my way.
Guided Mindfulness Meditations
Research has shown that carrying out daily mindfulness meditations can not only help us reduce our stress levels, but also increase our focus and energy and even improve our memory.
Why not start with the Breathing Space meditation? This tends to be the most popular one for anyone beginning their mindfulness practice. It’s relatively short and an easy one to fit in to the daily routine.
Sitting and Noticing is a nice one to move on to once you have established a regular routine and feel comfortable with the breathing space.
The Sound and Thought meditation is a useful one to use when you are often in environments with lots of distractions or noise. It can help us utilise this as part of our meditation rather than being a distraction. Definitely one for the more experienced practitioner I think.
I hope you enjoy and if you have any feedback please do get in touch Contact Lou
Sitting and Noticing
Sounds and Thoughts
Sunrise At The Beach
Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes
Hokusai was a Japanese painter and printmaker in the 18th -19th century. The paintings that most of us are familiar with are ‘Thirty six views of Mount Fuji’ and ‘the Great Wave off Kanagawa’. I’ve always been struck by the detail and movement within his work; as if he is completely at one with the subject, almost becoming it. He must have had a wonderfully curious mind to take in all that detail.
When he was working on another of his works, One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, he wrote:
“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at the age of eighty six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”
I admire the curiosity, the lifelong learning, the pure acceptance of being a work in progress; of celebrating that rather than dwelling on perceived flaws as so many of us do.
The recording alongside this is of a poem called ‘Hokusai Says’ by Roger Keyes. It resonated so much with me; capturing the deep soulful relationship that we can develop towards ourselves and the world in which we live. It’s almost as if we’re looking through the eyes of Hokusai and living with the world inside us. Enjoy.