Bring Ritual into Your Life Through Mindful Walking
All of the world's cultures throughout history have encouraged the use of ritual. The reason? Performing daily activities mindfully is the first step towards creating a meaningful life … one with depth. One activity that could fall under the realm of ritual is your fitness program. In this case, that program is walking.
Walking to maintain good health is a great idea, but you could be gaining much more if you were to approach your exercise routine as a mindful ritual. Putting greater focus, attention, passion and thoughtfulness into every workout will transform your fitness walking into a daily practice that can nourish your heart and mind … even your soul.
Create ritual in your walking practice by approaching it with a mix of intention and curiosity. Trying something with "new eyes" opens your mind and your body to new possibilities. Any activity you do with a high level of presence and awareness will always reveal something new about yourself. That's food for growth, the kind of growth that can happen for as long as you breathe. Ritual comes to play when you engage your exercise on as many levels as possible.
Here's an example of how I add ritual to my daily program:
I begin by waking up each day and laying in bed quietly before sitting up. I give myself a few minutes to Body Sense and slowly come out of sleep. Then I get up and splash water on my face. It is the distinct dividing line between sleep and waking. This is like my own version of a cup of coffee. I do this intentionally every morning … it is my ritual to starting the day and preparing for my walking exercise.
Next, I drink a glass of water and do Body Looseners before heading out for my walk. These exercises help my body into movement. During this process I listen to my body to see where I'm stiff or holding tension.
Then, I begin walking at a slow strolling pace. During the first 10 minutes of my walk, I set up my focuses and then set my countdown timer for 10 minute intervals which reminds me to do my focuses. At the end, I walk slowly before moving on to my stretches.
While I’m stretching, I review the workout to see if there is anything I learned or would like to write down in my journal. I also take the time to appreciate being out in nature and breathing fresh air and feeling alive.
Moving through all of these steps each morning has become a daily ritual that feeds my body by giving it physical exercise; my heart by refreshing my love of life, my mind by requiring me to focus in specific ways, and my soul by allowing me to begin my day feeling centered, relaxed and open.
As the saying goes, "You get out of something what you put into it."