Mindful Walking utilizes mindfulness and ecopsychology as emotional regulation skills. This is especially true if you are able to do this exercise outdoors. Mindful walking may be used to de-fuse potential emotional aggression. If you feel that one of your triggers has been activated, and you can take a break, go outside and do a little mindful walking!

The goal of a mindful walking exercise is to increase self-awareness by focusing on the sensations your body experiences while walking. Your brain takes in about 2 billion bytes of information per second. Of all this information being taken in, you are usually only conscious of about 4000 bytes of this information. This Mindful Walking exercise helps you to learn to become more consciously aware by learning to focus on only one thing at a time. By being present in the moment, we learn to let go of worries about the past, and anxieties about the future.

It is preferable to do this exercise outdoors if possible, but if necessary you may also do the exercise indoors. You may wish to make a recording of it for your mp3 player so that you may take it with you while you walk, or you can watch the video below to get a good idea of the process. the video below is for the Coyote Walk Meditation, a type of mindful walking that we use in our Ecospirituality Program.

Mindful Walking Instructions

Read over the instructions below, then try it on your own:

  • Start by standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, with your weight evenly distributed. Your hands should hang loosely and freely by your side. Gaze at the ground about five or six feet in front of you. Don’t focus your eyes on anything…just allow your eyes to relax.
  • Center yourself before beginning to walk by taking a few deep breaths before beginning to walk. Don’t begin to walk until your attention and intention are focused on the moment. Shift from Doing Mode to Being Mode.
  • When you are ready, slowly lift your right leg in preparation for taking the first step.
  • As you step, focus on feeling every muscle in your leg. Note what each muscle is doing as you move. Don’t hurry the step. Just allow yourself to experience all the sensations that your leg is giving to you. Step forward until your right foot makes contact with the ground. Notice how your foot makes contact with the surface.
  • Did your heel touch first, or was it your toes?
  • Did you feel the pressure of contact first with the inside edge of your foot, or with the outside edge?
  • Now as you begin to bring your left foot forward for another step, notice how the weight changes on your right foot. Is it changing from heel to toe, or the other way around? Where do your feet feel the pressure? Can you feel the pressure move across your right foot as you make the next step?
  • Now as you bring your left foot forward to make contact with the ground, repeat the procedure. Note how the pressure and weight change over your left foot and leg as you prepare to make another step with your right foot.
  • Continue on, walking in the same manner, paying attention only to the way your body moves as you continue to walk. Focus only on the sensations your body continues to give you.
  • At times you may find yourself becoming distracted. If you notice a fragrance on the breeze, or if an animal crosses your path, or if you hear a bird singing, your mind may wander from the sensations of walking. If this happens, simply stop walking until your attention returns to you.
  • Sometimes the distractions are not in the environment, but in your mind. If thoughts and feelings take your mind off of the walking, then once again, stop walking until your mind returns to focusing only on the walking.
  • Remember that the goal of this exercise is to practice paying attention to only one thing at a time, and one thing only. If you feel tempted to begin thinking about the past or the future, stop walking until your thoughts and feelings return only to the sensations of the walking.
  • As you continue to practice Mindful Walking as part of your daily routine, your mind will become more calm and relaxed. Mindful walking is something that you can practice at any time during the day whenever you need a quick break from doing.
  • As you continue to practice focusing on only one thing at a time, you we gain more control over your own thoughts and feelings. You will become less prone to periods of overwhelming emotions and thoughts. You will also learn to experience the joy and the happiness within you.
  • Continue your walk, directing your attention only to the sensations of your walking. As you come to an end to this mindful walking meditation, slowly take your last step, and come to a stop, resting comfortably where you stand.
  • End the meditation by taking a few deep breaths and expanding your awareness to the environment around you. You may wish to do a mindful meditation during your mindful walking exercise as well.

Use the Mindful Walking meditation whenever you have the opportunity to take a quick break; especially if you find yourself experiencing anxiety or depression. Strong emotions can lead to emotional aggression, and you can de-fuse such ruminating cycles by shifting from Doing Mode into Being Mode. Mindful Walking helps you to do this by taking energy out of the thinking cycle and shifting it into the sensing cycle.