Many new studies suggest that mindful walking is good, not only for mental health, but also to relieve stress. Moreover mindfulness, in general, is shown to improve chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Psychological stress plays a major role in inflammation in the body and if you love walking, then why not incorporate mindfulness into your routine to experience the effects?
One study from Thailand told participants to swing both arms forward on the in-breath while thinking the sound “Budd” and while swinging the arms back on the out-breath, think of the sound “Dha.” This exercise was essentially meditating on the sound of “Buddha” as they walked.
Another study focusing on the effects of mindfulness on inflammation and chronic pain, used the exercise of continuously focusing attention on the breath, sensations in the body and mental content while seated, walking or practicing yoga.
Both are great ideas:
- Saying a positive mantra as you walk, synchronizing breath and movement.
- As you walk, focus on the breath and witness the thoughts as they move past your mind like clouds in the sky (observing, but not judging and then letting them go). Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you walk and notice what comes up.
Two other practices I recommend:
- Drawing your awareness to the nature around you on your walk through your senses. Listen to the sounds in the environment – the song of the birds, running water, or the wind through the trees. Smell the scent of the trees or flowers (or whatever may be in your surroundings). Watch the movement of your feet and the beauty of the sky and the nature all around. Feel the breeze softly caress your skin on the heat of the sun on your body.
- Repeat the below list of affirmations as you walk and experience the feeling behind the words themselves.
Here are some affirmations to turn a seemingly mundane walk into a mindfulness walking exercise for enhanced health. Take one affirmation per day of the week and take it on your walk with you – embodying the words as you move.
- Breathing in, I breathe in love …. breathing out, I breathe out love.
- With each step I feel the energy of the earth supporting my every move.
- I am one with the elements and the animals around me.
- Each part of my body moves freely as a walk.
- Inhaling, I breathe in oxygen from the trees ... exhaling I breathe out, giving back to the trees.
- My awareness is on my center with every step I take.
- I am the nourisher of the universe and the universe nourishes me.