Tag Archives: mindfulness

The Health And Mental Benefits Of Walking

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”-Friedrich Nietzsche

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”-Thich Nhat Hahn

“Peace is every step.”-Thich Nhat Hahn

I came across these quotes over the weekend and it reminded me about my earlier post about slowing down and being present while walking and running errands with my family.

I truly believe that at every point in your journey the information you need most will present itself.  And if you ignore the information it will keep presenting itself over and over again until you get it.  Sometimes I trip over the information over and over again and still don’t get it.  It can take me a while to learn what I am supposed to learn.  Perhaps we need to learn the lessons that are presented to us before we can move on to other life lessons.  I have heard that things that remain undone serve as distractions when we try to move on.

At this point in my journey, I keep being presented information on the benefits of fitness in the form of walking.  I keeping seeing reminders of it everywhere.  Something tells me that getting moving and sustaining that movement is my next step. I think that walking particularly grabs my attention because it has been mentioned in quotes from many famous people.  It is a form of exercise that not only benefits the body but the mind.

Physical Benefits Of Walking

  • Reduces risk of disease
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased energy
  • Increased stamina
  • Better mood
  • Better memory
  • Weight loss

There are many days that I don’t see what is around me because I am too busy rushing around lost in the endless chatter of my to-do lists.  Walking can also bring about a mental clarity as well.  Just the simple task of walking mindfully and with focus can bring amazing calmness to your mind.  It allows you to see and notice the beauty around you.  Once your mind is clear, you might often be surprised to find that questions you have been struggling with suddenly have answers or that you might suddenly see solutions to problems that have been driving you crazy.

How To Find Clarity Using Walking

  • Start by walking at a slow pace.
  • Focus on the feeling of your feet softly hitting the ground with each step.
  • Focus on the sensations through your legs and body while you walk.
  • Bring your attention to your breathing as you walk.  Take full and deep breaths.  Imagine these breaths travelling through your body.
  • After walking for a while and once you feel centered, bring your focused attention to your surroundings.  Enjoying that which is beautiful around you.
  • You can pick up your walking pace once you are centered.
  • Try to remain centered while walking.  If you realize that your mind or focus has wandered, bring your attention back to the sensations of walking and your breath and slow back down.

So if you know that walking will help you with your physical shape and also benefit you mentally, why is it that I and so many other people struggle to get or stay moving?

I, like many other people, will start a new task with gusto and then over the coming months will slowly peter out as my enthusiasm fades.  It isn’t hard to get started, it is hard to keep going.  Personally, I get so down on myself when I start something and then don’t finish it.  So I guess that instead of potentially letting myself down, I just don’t get started.  Whenever I try to push myself, I come up with little excuses.  I can’t because of this or that.  I don’t have time.  Well today for myself personally, I have spent at least 2-3 hours sitting in front of the television with my computer in my lap not really accomplishing anything.  Realistically I know that I could find 30 minutes in a day to take a walk.  We can find time for the things we want to do.

So I guess it is time for me personally to begin moving.  With all of the benefits all rolled up into walking, how could I not?  Besides, if I keep delaying the learning/mastering of this lesson, it will keep presenting itself until I decide to put my attention on it.  Research shows that it takes 21 days to make a new habit.

Do you have 21 days you can devote to creating or changing a habit?  What lesson do you need to learn currently?  Maybe your current lesson isn’t about walking or fitness; what information has been popping up over and over again begging for your attention?  What could this say about the lesson you might need to currently place your focus on?

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Sposies!

Jade has been watching me cloth diaper her younger sister since she was born.  At school they were talking about recycling and she came home and told me that we needed to recycle.  I pointed out that while we do not separate our trash into recyclable items and take it into town, I do a lot of reusing.  She thought for a moment and said, “Like Roz’s diapers?”  Correct!

So a few months later Jade and I were watching TV and a disposable diaper commercial came one.  The commercial showed a husband and wife going through a store setting up their baby registry with one of those scanners.  After they had scanned a few things, they got to the diaper section.  The commercial showed them scanning the diapers hundreds of times to show how many diapers you need after the baby comes.  While watching this, Jade said, “You don’t need disposables, they are lying.  All you really need is cloth diapers.”

At the moment it made me smile that she was listening.  But then it gave me pause.

Do you ever wonder if you are making an impression on your children?  Do you ever wonder if they hear a word you are saying?  Do you think they are not watching you?

Let me assure you they are watching and paying attention more than you realize!

Are there things that you wish they wouldn’t see?  What are those things?  How are you going to start  changing what they see?  Mindfulness is a good place to start!  Being mindful of the fact that they are always watching is the perfect place to start.

This weekend let’s bring attention to the habits and tendencies of ours that we do not want to see our children copy.  Let’s notice the things we do that we do not want to pass on.  As we notice that we are doing something we wouldn’t want our children to copy or emulate, let’s bring our attention back to our breath and get centered.  Most times, just bringing our attention back to our breathing is enough to allow us to change our behavior.

Walking Slowly-AKA Meditative Walking

Let me begin by stating that I walk quickly.  I always walk quickly.  Usually when I walk, it is with purpose and my only focus while I walk is getting to where I need to go so I can do what needs to be done next.  In fact, when my oldest was little, I sometimes forgot that their little legs are so little that they take like four steps to our one.  You would see me rushing along and dragging a little one behind me.  Once I remembered, I would always slow down, but it always made me feel unproductive at a slower pace.

Since that time, I have learned about walking meditation by reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s works.  This weekend, my mother came into town.  She normally is a fast, no-nonsense walker like myself.  She recently had foot surgery and she has to move slower than usual.  We did some shopping while she was here and I would find myself rushing along and she would have to remind me that I needed to wait up.

Shopping with my mother over the weekend, forced me to think about my habit of always rushing around.  I miss the journey in my constant drive to get there.  When I noticed that I got ahead of my mother, I had to force myself to slow down.  I focused on the feeling of my feet hitting the ground, the feeling of my muscles contracting and relaxing, my breath going in and out (realizing that it was very shallow), the scenery around me, and the sound of our conversation and the conversations of the people around me.  I was truly there with my mother and two daughters.  Looking back now at the memory of that time over the weekend, the memory seems clearer than I am used to.  Usually when I look back a couple of days, I see just certain images and the rest is a blur.  I suspect that comes from me rushing around everywhere.  When you slow down you can take in more around you.

I am not perfect, and I caught my mother having to remind me more times than not to slow down.  But the whole experience got me to thinking about all the times, I relentlessly made those little feet scurry to keep up with me when my oldest was younger.  I intend to try to do better, by mindfully walking from place to place instead of hurrying everywhere. Lets see how much of our lives we can actually be present for by paying attention to where we are in the moment.

Will you practice mindful walking with me?  It doesn’t take much.  Just notice the sensation of your breath as you walk.  Notice the sensations in your body.  Notice the people around you.  Be present and in the here and now.  Let go of the thoughts about the past and future.

We can be more present for our families!

How To Remain A Mindful Parent In The Face Of Stressful Times

R for the last few weeks has been very cranky.  As mentioned in a previous post, we have discovered that she has two new teeth poking through her bottom gums.  This morning she woke up with her first cold.  To say she is irritable would be putting it mildly.  She is cranky.  She wants you next to her 24/7 and if you try to slip away after nursing her to sleep, she gets awake and furious very quickly.  To get anything done, I have to wear her and be constantly moving.  Then after a long day of crying and fussiness, J comes home from school.  It sometimes takes us 2-3 hours to get through homework, because of focus issues.  By the end of homework, I can usually feel my blood start to boil, my patience wearing thin and my thoughts racing everywhere.

How to stay mindful when things around you are going crazy?

I always try to bring myself back to my breath.  I focus on the rise and fall of my breath and nothing else.  I might say a mantra to myself like, “It’s Okay.  You are not going crazy, it just feels that way,” or, “Just Breathe, they don’t mean to act like wild animals.”  There is something about the feeling of your breath going through your body that is wonderfully centering.

On days that I am completely losing it, Mommy has to have a time-out.  Now as crazy as this might seem, I literally will go have a mini meditation session in the bathroom.  And yes, usually I will sit on the toilet!  I will go sit in the bathroom for 10 minutes and just focus on my breathing.  When I emerge, I know my family can sense that I am calmer.  I am then able to go back to whatever it is that we were doing when I noticed I was getting caught up in the chaos.

So when you feel like you are slipping down the slippery slope of anger, go to the bathroom.  Breathe for a little bit.  Re-center.  Then move back into whatever the situation may be, peacefully and calmly.

Bathroom Meditation Mini Poem
When my phone just went floatin’
And appears to be broken
My children are joking,
Now I feel like I’m choking
When I’m losing my grip,
And feel I might slip
I rescue myself from the fall
And get away from it all
I found sanity for me
In the same place that I pee!