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When walking becomes meditative and miraculous

Mindfulness, a timeless practice rooted in Indic philosophical wisdom, is about embracing the here and now. It is an untangling from the unchangeability of the past and unknowability of the future. Mindful walking, an embodiment of this philosophy, transforms our footsteps into acts of existential awareness. Each step becomes a step in conscious choice.

Each step affords an opportunity to know yourself as you are now. This knowability of the ‘Self ’ allows mindful walking to become a step towards enlightenment – a tactile, rhythmic meditation in motion.

Mindful walking involves the following aspects: grounding steps, intentional pacing, rhythmic breathing, body awareness sequence and the five senses scan.

Before you start walking, take a moment to ground yourself. Stand still and feel the connection between your feet and the Earth. Imagine roots extending from the soles of your feet, anchoring you to the ground. This grounding not only helps you establish a sense of stability but also serves as a reminder to stay present as you begin your mindful walk.

The next core principle is intentional pacing. Rather than walking automatically, consciously vary your pace as you move. Begin with a slow, deliberate pace that allows you to feel each step. Notice the shifting of your weight from one foot to the other and the subtle sensations in your feet as they make contact with the ground. As you feel more attuned to your movements, gradually increase your pace while maintaining the same level of mindful awareness. This intentional variation in pacing keeps your mind engaged.

Next, consciously synchronise your breath with your steps. Inhale deeply as you lift one foot and exhale as you place it down. If you need, count to three with each inhalation and count to six with each exhalation. Continue this pattern with each step, allowing your breath to guide your movements. This rhythmic synchronisation has a calming effect on the mind, helping you stay focused.

Now pay attention to the sensations and movements of your body as you walk. Start by focusing on your feet – the way they lift, move through the air, and make contact with the ground. Gradually shift your attention to other parts of your body involved in walking: your calves, thighs, hips, arms, and shoulders. Notice any tension or areas of discomfort and consciously release them. This body awareness sequence fosters a deeper connection between your body and mind.

If your mind wanders away from the present moment, use the five senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste – to anchor your awareness in the present moment. Observe your surroundings. Feel the texture of the ground beneath your feet and the sensations of the air on your skin. If there are scents in the air, take note of them. You can be mindful of any taste sensations if you’re eating or drinking during your walk.

Find a quiet and safe place for your mindful walk, ideally in a natural setting. Start with shorter walks and gradually extend your practice. Through mindful walking, we awaken more wholly and deeply to the world around us: revelling in its textures, colours, sounds, scents, and experiences. Mindful walking creates the miraculous in the mundane, as it opens for us a profound doorway to the eternal present.