Let’s take a walk together. But instead of walking with a destination in mind, we invite you to focus on being completely present in the moment. Studies show that practicing mindfulness—being present in the moment—can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while improving self-esteem and overall joy. Too often, we get caught up worrying about the future or rehashing events from our pasts. But when you spend your time making to-do lists or planning out the conversation you’re going to have with your supervisor later, you can miss out on the beauty of the world around you.
So let your legs carry you without worrying about where you’re going or how long it’s going to take to get there. Enjoy meandering—wandering—while focusing on being completely present in the moment. Focus on your body, your breathing, and your senses.
One of the first things to focus on as you walk, should be how your body feels and moves. Imagine a string gently tugging from the top of your head, lifting you straighter as you move. Soften your footsteps and allow your arms to swing freely at your sides. Pay attention to which areas of your body feel strong and which areas feel like they need extra help.
Feel your breathing. Take in a slow, deep breath through your nose. Feel your diaphragm expand to make room for the air. Let the air out slowly through your mouth. Continue taking slow, intentional breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth—noticing as clarity fills your mind and tension seeps from your shoulders.
Use your senses to observe your surroundings as you wander. Close your eyes for a moment, and think about how the space around you smells. Let yourself notice the little things—a newly budding tree, or an ant carrying a stick through the grass nearby. Listen to the whisper of the wind in the trees or the hum of a nearby vehicle. Take another deep breath, and see if you can taste the air around you.
When Thoughts Intrude
Sometimes, as you practice mindfulness rituals, other thoughts will intrude. You may begin feeling stressed about chores piling up at home or simply find that you’ve zoned out entirely.
When this happens, have grace with yourself. Like any skill, mindfulness takes practice. When thoughts intrude, acknowledge them—let them touch your consciousness—and then gently release them. Remind yourself that right now your focus is on being present. Your task list will wait, but the moment you’re in is fleeting.