Mindfulness is not only about sitting still and reflecting inward. Getting up and moving, while still maintaining mindful attention, can turn your focus more outward, getting you out of our head and into your body—and the world around you. Perking up your awareness even a little as you move through the world can enrich your daily experience and anchor you during emotional storms. Steady practice can enable you to manage increased intensity—a difficult conversation, a crisis, a challenging campaign—more skillfully. Instead of responding to highly charged situations by tensing up your body, you can learn to handle things with more ease and grace.
Here are a few ways you can take mindfulness with you the next time you’re heading into the great (or just everyday) outdoors:
When You’re Outside
Whether you’re perched on your front step with your morning coffee or heading to a specific destination, there’s an opportunity to take in your surroundings. Stop for a moment and see if you can take in all of the senses, one by one: sight, sound, taste, feel, smell. What colors are the leaves? If they’re falling through the air, watch them. What can you hear around you as everyone gets ready for the day? It might be the hum of traffic getting louder or children chatting as they walk to school. You might notice the coolness of the breeze on your cheeks or the smell of the air. Take stock of the different elements at play around you.
When You’re Walking
Walking is a great opportunity to tune into what’s happening in your body. When you’re walking—to lunch, to the car, to the bus—change your pace. Walk half as fast. You can try this mini-walking practice:
- Feel your feet touching the ground and let your weight distribute evenly
- Drop your gaze slightly. This helps you maintain focus
- Step out with your left foot. Feel it swing, and feel your heel hit the ground, followed by the ball of your foot, and your toes. Then feel the same as your right foot comes forward. Keep your attention on the movement: heel, sole, toes, lift. This helps you connect the action of walking to the present moment.
When You’re Commuting
Commuting can often feel like a transition period that’s all about anxiously waiting to get to the next place—including rushing to get home to relax! To counteract the rushing mentality—which is unsafe in any case—do something to ground you in your place. In the car, notice how the steering wheel feels in your hands, your posture as you sit. Take a few deep breaths before you start the ignition. If you’re on the bus, feel the vibrations of the bus through the soles of your feet as the bus accelerates and decelerates.
If you can walk to or from work, even if only for part of your commute, do it. If you find your thoughts, and your body, rushing, a helpful phrase to remember is: “go elephant.” Walk S L O W L Y. Feel your feet on the ground. Gaze easy and level. Feel the heaviness of your feet on the ground in juxtaposition to your racing thoughts.
—Barry Boyce, Mindful Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Stephany Tlalka, Mindful Magazine Assistant Editor, Digital.
Mindful will return in December with their next guest post. In the meantime, visit mindful.org for feature articles or to subscribe to the magazine in print or digital format.
[Photo Credit, Bottom Left: Ruths138, license
[Photo Credit, Bottom Right: Alex Eflon, license
[Photo Credt, Top Right: Bob Mical, license