2020 has been full of surprises for us all. Mine has been accompanied by a knee injury and later an operation to fix said knee. This meant relearning how to walk twice within 6 months. What did I learn?
I learnt to be patient. To respect my body. To admire the functionality of my joints, muscles, and tendons. To be present in each step rather than rush to the next thing, or walk texting not taking in the world around me.
This is a practice of mindful walking. This is a practice to welcome mindfulness into ALL aspects of walking, living, breathing, and being.
Connect To The Breath
Close your eyes as you stand tall in mountain pose and feel the breath. Breathe in and out of your nostrils and notice the coolness of the breath on the inhale and the warmth of the breath on the exhale. Take time to feel the subtle changes of the breath as it passes in and out of your nasal passage.
Connect To The Earth
Continue to stand tall in Tadasana (mountain pose) and tune into the sensation of your feet on the earth or floor beneath you. What sensations arise in the balls of both feet? Can you feel the space beneath the arches of the feet? Is there a tenderness to the pads of all ten toes?
Find Your Balance
Lift all ten toes, spread them wide and then root them back down. Eyes are still closed as you start to gently shift the weight more into the balls of the feet. Then pour the weight into your heels. Shift the weight to the right, and then to the left. Move around in all four directions before finding equilibrium, maintaining balance as you stand tall.
Rest The Arms
Hands can be hanging loosely by your sides, clasping elbows behind your back, hands on belly, or any other positioning that feels comfortable, effortless, and relaxing. Don't overthink it, you can always try a different position next time, just see what happens naturally.
Feel Each Step
Start to walk slowly taking one step at a time. Feel each movement as a series of stages: lifting, moving, placing. Sense into the heel, arch, and ball of the foot as you land into each moment as you take each new step. Go slow and breathe.
Keep The Gaze Low
As a beginner, it is easiest to keep the gaze low, just in front of the feet so there isn't too much sensory distraction from your surroundings. Allow your gaze to be vacant, not focusing on anything in particular, widening your view to take in the whole experience of presence.
Use the breath to ground into earth. Feel the pulse of the breath extend all the way from the nostrils down to the soles of the feet and back up again. Using the breath as a means of focusing the mind and breathing between the thoughts.
If the mind wanders, respond with kindness. Don't judge yourself for losing distraction, instead see it as an opportunity to reaffirm your attention and come into a deeper state of presence. Each time you become lost in the trance of thinking, the journey back to now becomes a little easier. The thoughts themselves are not the distraction, it's when we allow them to consume us. The breath can bring you back in an instant.