Walking for your Soul: Combining Mindfulness with Movement

We are all only human. But that also means that we learn more about ourselves every day. My “ah-hah” moment came when I was walking with my daughter when she pointed out a shape in my neighbor's trees neither of us had noticed before. Prior to her pointing, I was impatiently texting my husband, asking when he was getting home so he could “take over,” because I had run out of steam for my daughter’s boundless energy.

When I have “hit my limit” as we say in our house, I can be impatient, sarcastic and not a very good role model. I don’t like it when I am that way around my child (or anyone for that matter!), but it happens from time to time, as I am sure it has happened to every parent and non-parent alike. This time, however, she rescued me from my own impatience. Her pointing out the tree made me stop and really look at my surroundings instead of rushing to finish the walk.

This is the essence of mindful movement: be present.  Rather than listening to music, obsessing over my pace, or the number of minutes, miles or steps, I began to walk and observe. And you know what? I remembered something from my childhood.

I grew up in a ramshackle white house behind the school where my mother taught. I loved roller skating through the kitchen; the slope on the floor was so bad, I could really pick up speed! That was about the only thing I liked about that house…well, that and the fact that being behind the school meant being behind the playground, which was awesome!

I remember when they installed new gravel under the swings. Two giant mounds of it were hauled in. They stayed there for almost an entire summer. I used to climb up and down those hills until I was covered in white gravel dust, head to toe. I always liked the sound the gravel made under my feet. I still do. Crunch, crunch, crunch. When you’re walking, every surface has a different sound. Slap, slap, slap. Crisp, crisp, crisp. I feel fortunate that my daughter could bring the joy back into my workouts.

When was the last time you were so present in what you are doing you heard the sounds beneath your feet? If you're not in the moment, you're missing everything. Exercise or otherwise, everything we do is a new experience. Go find your favorite surface, and listen.

It will be the best exercise you get all week.


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