“When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn – How to Walk (Parallel Press April 2015)
When we consciously focus on our breathing, we open up ourselves to listen more intently to our bodies. The same can be achieved through mindful walking. It helps to ground ourselves in the present moment and deepen the connection to our bodies.
In the classes this week, the children explored some mindful walking. It is amazing how the body simply knows what to do with each step we take and how perfectly everything flows. We started by paying attention to our feet while standing. We noticed where in our feet we could feel the weight of our bodies – more in our heels or more in our toes; more on the outside of our feet or more on the inner soles. We then played around a bit and purposefully shifted the weight from heels to toes; from outer soles to inner soles and then back to a central equilibrium. I always feel good on coming back to the centre position. It is like this is a position I can come back to at any time to feel safe and grounded. So simple. Just standing with two feet firmly on the ground, connecting to the ever-present support of the earth.
The children were then asked to bend one knee and notice what happened. Try this at home. As you bend the knee more and more, and simply allow your body to move in a natural way, the heel of the foot automatically starts to lift. And so, we began our first step. The key to mindful walking is to slow it down. Really, really slow it down. The children were then guided in noticing what was happening in the body with each step that they took:
- Which part of your foot prepares to leave the ground first?
- How does the weight in your foot shift as this preparation takes place?
- What happens to your knee and the rest of your leg?
- What happens to the other foot?
- Does the other foot roll slightly as you start to balance on one leg for a short time?
- Can you notice the weight already start to shift in the other foot as it gets ready to follow the foot in the air?
- As the foot in the air prepares to land, does your toe or heel reach the ground first?
- What sensations do you notice in the foot as it connects with the ground again?
- What do you notice happening in your hips and upper body during this movement?
- What do you notice happening with your breath?
Paying attention. Noticing. No judgement. Mindfulness.
We then played a fun game called Sleepy Dragon that helps to encourage mindful walking. Thanks to @blossomandbee for the great idea! One child is the dragon while the others need to mindfully walk up to the dragon to touch the magic key without the dragon hearing them. It was great fun! Have a look at this video.
To end off the lessons, the children traced one of their feet and either decorated their footprint (lots of pretty painted toenails emerged!) or used words to describe how they felt during the mindful walking. This was a lovely reminder for them to take home to remind them that “When you walk, arrive with every step”.
So, this week, I encourage you to take a bit of time out to practice some mindful walking. Enjoy!