Breathe In, Breathe Out & Walk

Katy Lang Tweet Us @walkarlington@walkarlington October 23, 2019
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Katy Lang is the Program Manager for WalkArlington. She started living car-free in Arlington nine years ago and is passionate about finding great running routes and safety for people walking.

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What exactly is mindfulness? How can we embrace it in our everyday lives? Here’s how walking can help us be more mindful.

Over the past few years, the term mindfulness has increased in popularity. But what is it, exactly? And how can we practice it in our everyday lives?
Sunset over Pentagon Memorial in Arlington

Why Mindfulness

According to Ryan M. Niemiec in Psychology Today, mindfulness is “the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” Well, what does that mean?

It means that you control what you pay attention to, living in the moment, whether that is the task at hand, sensations in your body such as your breath, or what you can hear, smell, or touch around you. It also means that you pay attention without judgment and instead, with curiosity and acceptance. Even if you notice a negative, you acknowledge it without immediately wishing it to go away.

Mindfulness improves mental health, physical health, and well-being by relieving stress and increasing appreciation and acceptance for life’s experiences.

Walking as Part of a Mindful Life

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including meditation, guided classes, and therapy. One great way to work mindfulness into your daily routine is to practice it when you walk!

We already know that walking improves your health and well-being, whether you do it in a park or in an urban area. Mindfulness is like your walking power boost.

Three Ways to Walk Mindfully

You may want to start under the guidance of an instructor, a local group, or download an app for guided meditation that you can listen to while you walk (make sure the volume isn’t too high.) But, if you’re ready to be mindful on your next walk, keep reading for some ways to practice:

Notice how your body feels

Are you achy or sore in places? Are you breathing heavily from walking fast? Is your bag rubbing against your arm? How do your toes and heels feel when they are on the pavement?

Breathe

Breathe deeply in and out as you walk. Focus your thoughts on how your breath goes into your nose and out from your mouth. If it’s too hard to stay focused on your breath, try repeating a positive word or phrase to yourself. If I’m stressed, I like to go with, “everything’s going to be okay.”

Savor what you see, hear, smell, and touch

Those roses? Stop and smell them. Touch the cool pebbly wall next to you. Let the sounds of nearby traffic wash over you—all without judgment. And don’t be afraid to stop walking and fully immerse yourself in what you’re noticing.

If you find this to be hard at first, don’t worry! There is no final stage for mindfulness. Being more mindful is something we must work on all the time, so if you find your attention wandering, gently bring it back to a more mindful place with these techniques.

Try a Walk

Want to feel more alive and have greater well-being? Try mindfulness on one of our Walkabouts.

link to download a walkarlington walkabout map

Photo Credit:

Sam Kittner/Kittner.com

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