Try a Walk
How do you get back on your feet when life has knocked you to your knees? With gentleness, patience, and compassion. Healing, like walking, is a progressive, step-by-step process. Take a walk and you begin to connect with the stability of the earth and with the physical strength to move forward in life. Add mindful focusing techniques to your walks, and you create a moving meditation that releases stress and restores balance.
Like any form of meditation, walking meditation is a practice. Your ability to quiet mental chatter improves with repetition. If you walk with a friend or family member for support, agree to walk a few minutes in silence so you can take a break from fears and frustrations with the following exercises.
1. Put Your Foot Down: Turn your attention to your feet for this exercise. Can you feel the ground, or the surface beneath you? What is the texture of the surface holding you? Smooth? Bumpy? Rocky?As you move from heel to toe with each step, feel your entire foot connect with the solid support beneath you. If you want to add a verbal cue, mentally say left, right, left, right, as you move from foot to foot.
2. Breathe in, Breath out: When you focus on your breath as you walk, you are using a common tool of meditation to quiet stressful thoughts. You are also fueling your body with oxygen that boosts mental clarity, energy, and immune function.
As you walk, mentally coach yourself by saying IN to yourself as you inhale a full, deep breath of air. When you exhale, mentally say OUT as you empty your lungs. IN, OUT, IN, OUT. Maintain a slow, steady rhythm. You’ll probably notice that simply saying the words in your mind helps you breathe deeper than usual.
3. Clear the Air: Expand your focus on breath by adding imagination. As you inhale, imagine you’re drawing in new life, new awareness, and new courage to move ahead. As you exhale, imagine that the stale, used-up residue in your cells is flowing out of you. Release what you no longer need or want to hold on to. Release tension, anger, weariness, as you exhale. Feel your body relax.
Find more healing steps in the eight-week Walking Well program in Healing Walks for Hard Times. Buy the Book!
“Reading Healing Walks for Hard Times is like traveling with a wise mother who understands the depths of anguish that can visit a life, but also has a literal and metaphoric road to healing that’s available to all of us. Carolyn’s advice is practical, lucid, and speaks to every aspect of our lives.”
— Dan Shapiro, PhD,
cancer survivor and
author of Mom’s Marijuana
Just five minutes of walking can boost both energy and mood, says Robert Thayer, PhD, research psychologist at California State University. Ten minutes brings more energy than a candy bar!
— The Spirited Walker
Take Steps that Set Healing in Motion
from Healing Walks for Hard Times