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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Trying to Get My Life Together with Mindfulness Walking

I have been trying to get my life together for more than 25 years, if not longer. I am currently 50 years of age and I consumed my first alcoholic drink when I was 10 or 11years old.

It's been a long, hard road for me mainly because of a lifelong drug and alcohol addiction. Excluding the past year, I have been homeless for the better part of the last decade. I've slept on the sidewalk and I've eaten food out of garbage cans to sustain myself all while drunk or stoned. I know what adversity is, and I know what success is.

I have Enjoyed Successes in My Life

There have been times in my life when I was able to attain sobriety and those are the times I am most proud of. I've worked for companies such as Aetna, Payne Webber and Jacob's Engineering. And I've been self-employed and responsible for two employees and countless customers.

Something I've engaged in this year to help me change my life for the better is mindfulness walking. Walking mindfully isn't difficult and the benefits are well worth the effort that's required to perform the exercises. The benefits of mindfulness walking are numerous, but the first one you'll realize is that mindfulness is incredibly relaxing.

I'm aware it's paradoxical, but walking mindfully really is relaxing. What's better, is if you perform the meditation right before you go to bed because you'll wake up feeling incredibly relaxed.

Get Your Life Together with Mindfulness Walking

You can download a guided mindfulness walking MP3 exercise using the link in this sentence. Right click on the link then choose 'Save As'. The file will automatically be saved in your downloads folder. The MP3 was created by the professionals at the Living Well website.

Set a goal to walk mindfully every day for twenty minutes at a time and before you realize it, you will be a better person. And you'll enjoy the following benefits:
  • More tolerant of others
  • Emotion regulation
  • Perfect posture
  • Reduce or eliminate back pain
  • Compassionate towards the self and others
  • Lower stress levels
  • Increase body awareness

It'll take at least two weeks before you notice changes in your posture and your demeanor so be patient and continue to perform the exercises. Once you begin to notice changes in your body, you may want to perform the exercise twice a day.

How to Perform Mindfulness Walking Exercises

Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking mindfully. Remember, there are many variations to this exercise, the one I describe here is the one I perform. It's the exercise that's helped me achieve the benefits I outlined above.

This exercise relies on a pace that is close to how we might walk in everyday life, and in fact, it can be adapted for walking on the sidewalk.

Walk at a steady pace, slightly slower than in daily life but not funereal style pace. Place all your attention on your feet. When your left foot makes contact with the pavement, say, 'left foot' and when your right foot makes contact say 'right foot'. Continue saying left foot, right foot, when each respective foot touches the ground.

When your attention wanders, bring it back to the sensations of your feet touching the ground and continue acknowledging when a foot touches the pavement.

Perform the exercise for twenty minutes. Why does this work so well? Think about this: when your left foot touches the pavement and you acknowledge it, you literally are stepping into the present moment because your foot is actually touching the pavement!

Parts of this article on mindfulness walking appeared on Mindful.org.

Image Credit: Walking a path less travelled