I was going to make week five of this beginners series about letting go but last night I attended an outdoor wellbeing and meditation event that began with a short walk across the open fields and woodlands of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I decided change week five to reflect this experience of being mindful of our surroundings whilst taking a walk followed by some seated meditation whilst the sun set.
Our surroundings are ever changing. Grass grows, leaves bud then fall, water ripples, rolls and reflects, clouds move and the sun rises and sets. Even buildings change. But when was the last time you really took notice of what really is around you when you walk?
Taking a mindful walk can be enlightening, you don’t have to walk miles or have specialist walking attire. You can slip on your old tatty shoes and just walk to the end of the garden or your street. You can walk for five miles or five minutes but make that time to be attentive to your surroundings.
If you are walking alone please be careful and make sure someone knows where you are going. Take your phone (for security and to take a photo at the end) and some paper and pen.
Take some even cleansing breaths through your nose, and walk. Acknowledge how the weather feels on your face and how the fresh air smells. Consciously look around you while you walk, drinking in your surroundings. If you are in a built up area note the bricks that buildings are made of, notice the path beneath your feet and the sounds your shoes makes on it, run your fingers along railings and note the shapes and textures of objects as you pass them.
If you are in the countryside notice the hedgerows, fields, animals, wild flowers and grass. How does it look blowing in the breeze, how does it smell, how does the grass feel on your fingers? Take flower in your hand and look at the shapes of the petals and the leaves.
If you feel safe to do so take off your shoes and walk barefoot, experiencing the change of sensation. Please be careful if you do this and wash your feet afterwards.
Continue walking and noticing for as long as you like before finding a safe place to sit for a few moments.
Close your eyes and take several rounds of regular breaths. Open your eyes and reflect on your experience. Using your pen and paper note down what you saw. Have you seen anything new or unusual and how did it feel to be outside and completely immersed in your surroundings? Think about if you found it easy to be present in the environment or if there were too many distractions.
What ever you noted, I hope you found this mindful practice useful.
Have a wonderful mindful week everyone.