Mindful Walking In The Woods with Lidia Zylowska
Lidia Zylowska MD is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing. She is internationally recognized as an expert in adult ADHD and mindfulness-based therapies and she is a co-founding member of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. Her research work pioneered the application of mindfulness in ADHD and developed the Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs) for ADHD program. She has published in peer-reviewed journals about mindfulness in ADHD and has presented to diverse audiences of clinicians or patients. She is an author of an award-winning book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD and her newest book, Mindfulness for Adult ADHD: A Clinician’s Guide.
Counting Breath And Stabilising Mind: A 20 minute meditation with Elise Bialylew
MINDFULNESS IN MOTION
As we move through the program and you continue with your daily meditation, try bringing mindful activities into your everyday life to help reinforce and strengthen this present moment awareness we are developing.
One of the biggest misconceptions that exists about meditation is the idea that you stop and meditate and then you continue on with your day, when in fact, the idea is that our whole day can be a meditation. We bring an intention to stay present to what we are doing from moment to moment.
Formal meditation is simply an opportunity to make time to deepen that present moment awareness and strip back some of the daily distractions “out there” to enable us to get better at noticing what is happening in each moment.
Mindful walking is a good way to put mindfulness meditation into motion and bring mindfulness to something most of us do every day: walking.
Whether it’s a leisurely walk on the beach or briskly moving between places, the essence of the practice is to bring your attention to all of the sensations of walking, rather than getting lost in your thoughts.
Mindful walking helps you unhook from compulsive thinking, making to-do lists or analysing problems, and brings you back to an awareness of your body.
In “Dubliners”, writer James Joyce beautifully captures “unmindful” walking in a brief description of one of his characters: “Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”
So many of us are completely cut off from our physical selves, as if the body was designed purely to transport our overactive brains from one place to another.
Mindful walking reminds us to bring awareness to our whole being, almost like a body scan in motion.
This is a practice that you can do for any length of time in any situation where you find yourself moving from one point to another, whether it’s a day-long hike in a national park or a five-minute walk down the street.
- Set an intention to start mindful walking. Be clear in your own mind that you are going to stay present to the feeling of walking rather than getting lost in your thoughts. The aim is to notice when you mentally detach from your body, walking on autopilot as you move from A to B. Try to move with an ongoing awareness of walking itself.
- Set a time or a distance for your mindful walk. You might like to make a habit of walking mindfully every time you are in a particular setting. If you’re at work you might designate a particular corridor as your mindful walking reminder. Each time you pass through that corridor, intentionally direct your attention to the body, giving your mind a micro-break. If you regularly walk on the beach, in a park or in the street, you might choose a stretch of path between two landmarks as your mindful walking distance.
- Bring your attention into your body and out of your head. Sense your feet on the ground, slow your walking down slightly, and notice the lifting and placing of your feet on the ground. You may like to silently note “lift” and “place”. Sense your legs and notice the sensation of balancing. Tune in to your senses and notice the sounds around you, including smells, colours, light and shadows.
TIP FOR WALKING
If you notice yourself walking in a hurry during the day, recognise the feeling of rushing in your body and take a moment to stop. Take three mindful breaths, bring your awareness into your body, and take a few slow footsteps to break the rush and come back to presence. This is an opportunity to get out of the whirlwind of your thoughts, even if just for a few minutes.
If you are participating in our Facebook group, drop by and let us know any thoughts you had after this exercise or after doing today’s meditation.
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Watch Elise's conversations with four leading wellbeing experts.