Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn Community, Conservation & Citizen Science - Page 18

The Simplicity of Mindful Walking

The Simplicity of Mindful Walking

By Alysia Linsenmayer
Have you ever headed out for a walk , perhaps with the intention of enjoying the outdoors or clearing your head , only to return and discover you can ’ t remember the walk itself ? For many of us , walking is so basic an action that we gloss over the time walking and rush along to the next item in the day , distracting ourselves with thoughts about the future or the past . While walking , did you ever make it a point to pare your thoughts down , to quiet your mind and find peace in your walking at this very moment ? This is mindfulness : to be focused on the present moment . It is noticing the feel of the earth under your feet , observing your thoughts simply as thoughts and redirecting focus to your breath . Mindfulness at its core is simple , but as we know what is simple can be incredibly difficult , especially when our busy minds are involved .
In the “ Introduction to Mindful Walking ” workshops at Mount Auburn , walking becomes an easily accessible experience of mindfulness . We work together intentionally to slow the pace , to feel the soles of our feet as we walk , and to reflect upon our different experiences .
There are various definitions of mindfulness , but the idea underlying them all is to “ be present .” When you are eating , eat ! When you are working , work ! When you are walking , walk ! The aim is to be present without judgment , with kindness , with the expectation that the mind will wander and that we can gently bring it back to whatever our focus is , despite our tendency to berate ourselves . If we can embrace our full experience of mindful awareness
( including our chatty minds ) with self-compassion , that is a truly restorative meditative practice .
Most individuals find it helpful with their mindfulness or meditation practices to have an “ anchor ” to bring them back to the present when their thoughts wander . Anticipating that our thoughts will drift — our minds are thought machines after all , and are simply doing their job — can allow us to recognize them with an attitude of openness and curiosity before guiding them with kindness back to our anchor . The most common anchor you hear of is “ the breath .” As a good start , I encourage you to experiment with counting your breaths , using a soothing mantra or phrase , focusing on one sense ( listening , for example ), to find an anchor that works for you .
Try it when you are walking to or from work , as you do errands . Even a minute or two of mindful movement , especially if you sprinkle them throughout your day , can help bring you back to the present moment .
About the author
Alysia Linsenmayer ( LICSW , RYT-300 ) is a psychotherapist at Riverside Outpatient in Newton . She also teaches restorative yoga , mindfulness workshops , and a meditation class at Artemis Yoga in Watertown , MA .
16 | Sweet Auburn
The Simplicity of Mindful Walking By Alysia Linsenmayer Have you ever headed out for a walk, perhaps with the intention of enjoying the outdoors or clearing your head, only to return and discover you can’t remember the walk itself? For many of us, walking is so basic an action that we gloss over the time walking and rush along to the next item in the day, distracting ourselves with thoughts about the future or the past. While walking, did you ever make it a point to pare your thoughts down, to quiet your mind and find peace in your walking at this very moment? This is mindfulness: to be focused on the present moment. It is noticing the feel of the earth under your feet, observing your thoughts simply as thoughts and redirecting focus to your breath. Mindfulness at its core is simple, but as we know what is simple can be incredibly difficult, especially when our busy minds are involved. In the “Introduction to Mindful Walking” workshops at Mount Auburn, walking becomes an easily accessible experience of mindfulness. We work together intentionally to slow the pace, to feel the sol \و\Y]\H[[YX\ۈ\Y\[^\Y[\˂\H\H\[\Y[][ۜوZ[[\]HYXB[\Z[[H[\8'H\[ 'H[[H\HX][X]H[[H\Hܚ[ܚH[[H\H[[[HHZ[H\H\[]]YY[ ][\]H^X][ۈ]HZ[[[\[]H[[H[]X]]\\\š\\]H\[[H\]H\[\ˈYH[[XXH\[^\Y[HوZ[[]\[\ŒMY]]X\[Y[\]HZ[H][X\\[ۋ]\B[H\ܘ]]HYY]]]HXXK[[]YX[[][[]Z\Z[[\›܈YY]][ۈXX\]H[8'[ܸ'H[[HXH\[[Z\Y[\[X\][]\Y[Y8%\Z[\BYXX[\Y\[ [\H[\H[Z\ظ%[[\Xۚ^H[H][]]YHق[\[\[]HYܙHZY[[H][\˜X\[܋H[[[ۈ[܈[HX\ق\8'HX] 'H\H\ H[\YH[H^\KBY[][[[\X]\[H[X[B܈\K\[ۈۙH[H \[[܈^[\JK™[[[܈]ܚ܈[KH][[H\H[[܈Hܚ\[B\[ˈ][HZ[]H܈وZ[[[ݙ[Y[ \XX[HY[B[H[BY][\^K[[[ž[HXB\[[ X]H]]܂[\XH[[X^Y\PU L B\HX\\\]]\YH]]Y[[]ۋH[XX\\ܘ]]H[KZ[[\ܚ[HYY]][ۈ\]\[Z\[H[]\ۋPK