IT TOOK A STORM TO HELP ME BE PRESENT!
Walking for 50 minutes at the end of each day is routine for me. I lace up, insert my Air Pods, select a play list, and off I go. I pass dogs on leashes, food delivery people, kids on the playground, …I think you get the picture. I live in an active neighborhood and there is much to be observed for the mindful walk. My intentions for walking are to destress at the end of the day, be mindful and present, and stay fit. However, what I didn’t realize, is that at some point my walking ritual had become too routine. My mind would wander for large periods of time to things I needed to do or to worries about the future. I wasn’t using my senses of sight, smell, hearing, or touch to help me be stay present. In fact, I was even tuning out my music. I was missing the world around me as I walked by on the same streets, with the same playlists of songs in my ears.
AND THEN ONE DAY ON THIS PARTICULAR WALK, IT STORMED!
The time between the first crack of thunder and the ensuing downpour was extremely short. I took off my Air Pods to keep them dry, paused my playlist, and started walking faster. I couldn’t help but notice the incredible wind rocking the leafless trees and gusting against my face. The rain was cold and heavy, soaking my ball cap and hair. The skies darkened and headlights and wipers became a necessity for vehicles passing on the streets. The puddles began to build, but it was too late for my shoes anyway. Then just like that the rain stopped. I noticed flocks of birds flying quickly to somewhere else. My clothes were wet and heavy, but I was strangely invigorated! I had become completely present, watching, listening, smelling, sensing the world around me as I walked by on the same streets that had previously become routine and mindless.
Mother Nature had won the fight with my wandering thoughts. I was present again. I had forgotten how healing it is to be present and be aware of all the information my senses observe. I had forgotten how easy it is to slip into bad habits. Being mindfully present helps us regulate our emotions and recharge our energy. Mindful walking allows feelings to move more easily though us. As we close out the holiday season and start the year 2022, I encourage you all to re-evaluate your routine for mindfulness and adjust accordingly. It may not take a storm for you like it did me but making sure you find time to be mindful and present will be worth it!
5 TIPS FOR IMPROVED MINDFULNESS WALKING/EXERCISE:
1) CHANGE YOUR WALKING/EXERCISE ROUTE REGULARLY
Give your brain new information to process in the present.
2) CREATE NEW PLAYLISTS
Combine some familiar songs and some new beats to listen to when you move! Switch them regularly. This prevents your brain from tuning out the familiar and wandering to other thoughts.
3) GO WITHOUT MUSIC/PODCAST
Just take in the sense of sound around you.
4) DON'T MAKE A PHONECALL
This one can be tempting! Silence your phone notifications.
5) DON'T JUDGE YOURSELF
Your mind will wander. It’s normal. Just bring it back to the present moment.
Be present in 2022!