What Does a Mindful Walk Mean?
Having a mindful walk is a simple practice and yet some of us never get it right. It is learning to be aware of your breathing and holding your concentration while you are walking. The natural movement of taking a stroll while staying in the moment. It means turning off all of the things that could distract you like music and reading your cell phone. Walking doesn’t need to be done outside but can do done in your own home.
Where to be mindful
Pick a place like a hallway where you can get about 30 to 40 steps in, and walk at your own pace. You are your only competition here so take that into consideration. Determine before you begin how long you will walk or how many laps you will do. It is all in your control.
How to be mindful
Have your feet firmly placed on the floor before you begin. Be aware of your breath and using pursed lips as your walk begins. Arms and hands should be resting easily. If you use supplemental oxygen for exertion, have it ready and at hand. Close your eyes and release all thoughts and pictures from your mind. It is one of the hardest tasks to clear your mind and it may take a bit of practice to get it right. Take a few deep breaths to get you started. Be aware of what is under your feet. Feel the pressure of your feet on the floor and the sensation of your breath. Stand and bend your legs as you begin walking.
Go slow and bring your wandering mind back to mindfulness
Begin slowly. There is no competition. Feel all the sensations of breathing as you are moving your legs and feet. Keep your arms and hands loose and at your side. Remember to exhale as you exert yourself. Notice what it feels like to lift your leg and put your foot down on the ground again. Keeping your mind on of each movement is mindfulness.
Wandering and wondering about it all
Your mind wants to wonder on about the things it gets distracted about. Your job is to acknowledge that is has happened and to gently bring your mind back to mindfulness by being aware of your breathing and how your legs, feet, arms, and hands are being affected.
When you find that your mind is wandering a lot, gently stop at some point to the center and realign yourself. Bring your mind back to awareness, your steps, your breath, and the task at hand.
Keep your steps easy and be present in the moment and aware of what your body is feeling and how it is responding. Once you are at the end of your walk, pause and reflect on what you have accomplished and the momentum you have achieved.
Once mastered, you can use mindfulness in all activities and tasks that you need to accomplish. By staying in the moment and forcing your mind to stay only on the task at hand, each task becomes easier. Your main focus should always come back to your breathing and the sensations of legs and arms. Work on mastering your breathing and always being in control of its pace.
Begin to use mindfulness to get to your car, to go shopping, and walking outside. Enjoy walking for the sake of walking and improving your breathing. Stay mindful.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?