Written by: C.J. Arabia
Have you ever gone on vacation and found your mind wandering off to troubles at home or back at work? You’re not alone. You’ve taken time off from work, found a house-sitter and traveled half way around the world – and yet your mind keeps drifting back home. Worrying about work, family, and your pets or children. You need to invoke the power of Conscious Travel. One way to do that is to do some mindful walking. Mindful walking will help you be where your feet are, bringing your mind into the present moment (and country) with the rest of your body.
Mindful walking will help get you out of your head, reconnect to your environment on a deeper level, and help to plug your mind in to the the beauty around you. Mindful walking will help to slow down your thinking and improve your ability to concentrate and be present as you travel.
Start practicing before you leave for your trip. Mindfulness is like any other artistic muscle. It’s stronger and more productive when it gets used regularly. So the sooner you start practicing, the easier it will be when you are traveling to keep up with the practice.
You don’t have to spend all day mindfully walking, 5 – 20 minutes of mindful walking each day, or whenever you can manage, is enough to keep that muscle strong.
Tips For Mindful Walking
Mindful walking can be done at any time, and any place, but to get started it’s helpful to take some “mindful steps”. You’ll want to wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing, nothing restrictive or heavy. Then get outside and walk! It can be in nature or in a city, but go walk. Start by bringing your attention on to your breathing as you walk. Notice how you are walking. Slow it down a bit. Walk naturally, but slower than usual. Feel the air fill your lungs and exhale fully. The cool air goes in, and the warm air goes out. Move your consciousness to your feet and mentally travel up your body relaxing the muscles as you go. Notice how you feel and how your posture effects your movement. Are your shoulders hunched forward (from all that time at the desk)? Does your low back ache? Try to relax where there is unnecessary tension or gently engage muscles that feel lax and unused. How do these small changes effect how you move, feel, breathe? Keep the effort easy. Focus your eyes and attention softly forward. Take in the world around you. There is always more to notice. If your mind wanders, return to your breathing and check your muscles to make sure your body is soft and not stuff, moving freely and with ease. Soft focus, move forward. Let thoughts pass through your mind and off into space. Continue breathing.
You can even do it with someone you love.
When you’re ready to wind things down simply come to a gentle stop. Feel your body, the shape of your body, feel your body and feel your presence in the world around you. Take a few deep breaths with your feet planted firmly on the ground connecting you to the planet and every living thing on it.
Keep this practice up and you’ll find that you are able to really be present, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
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