Summer Walks- An Act Of Mindfulness
Summer time and the living is easy! Well, not always, as the days seem to slip by so quickly. We start to worry about summer ending too soon. We wonder how will it be when the children are back at school? In being in the past and future, we miss the moments of being here now. This practice will bring you to the present moment. It helps unite the mind and body through the breath and feet. You can do it alone or invite your children and loved ones to participate.
Hopefully there are a few minutes when you can get out and go for a walk. Children can learn to walk mindfully and in my experience, love the peace that it brings. Often I will take my students on a silent walk through the woods. In the beginning they resist and want to chat and run around. Some of them have never taken a silent walk.
I Invite Them To Do It Anyway
After walking silently and observing the feeling of their bodies, the air on their skin and the pressure of their feet on the ground, they report they feel deeply happy that they did the practice.
Here are a few reports children have made:
- “I felt like I could hear things I never hear when I just walk around.”
- “I saw little bugs in the forest I hadn’t noticed before.”
- “Everyone is always talking all the time and this gave me some quiet time.”
- “The world looked beautiful.”
- “It was hard for me. I kept forgetting and talking but people would remind me and I would try again.”
If the children feel this way after a 15 minute walk, why don’t you have a try with your loved ones. The whole family could do it together. If nothing else you will have 5 minutes of peace and quiet yourself!
My partner, Peter, and I often do this practice when we walk, as we don’t have to think of anything or fill the space of silence in any way. We both find it deeply relaxing.
- Set the intention to take a mindful walk. This might include inviting your child to walk silently for 5 minutes. Tell them it is an experiment and you will both check in with each other when it is done.
- Let them hold the timer if they wish.
- Notice your breath.
- Walk with the intention to feel your feet on the ground. Maybe you only take one step with each breath. You are not “getting anywhere in particular.” I tell the students we are trying to walk at less than 1/2 speed.
- When you stop feeling your feet on the ground, gently bring your attention back to your feet.
- It is all about noticing the feet, the body and the beauty of your surroundings.
- If your mind starts to get busy…. gently bring it back to the feet, body and beauty.
- At this pace, you may only need to go into the garden or 1/2 way around the block.
Thích Nhất Hạnh
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, in his book: Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, says, “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
. During his Peace Walk Talk in 2002 he describes mindful walking this way: “That is why every step brings us back to the present moment, so that we can touch the wonders of life that are available. Therefore, when I say, ‘I have arrived,’ I mean I have arrived in the here and the now — the only place, the only time where and when life is available, and that is my true home.”
Add Some Art And Playfulness
A fun art idea to enhance the walking practice is to paint lips on your feet! Let’s really kiss the ground and honor Mother Earth.
Get out the tempera or face paints and paint each other’s feet! What fun, and ticklish too. When your child walks they really can kiss the ground and bring their attention back to their feet with every step.
Have a wonder-filled summer.
I am busy co-writing, Awakening Joy For Kids, with James Baraz. I am also taking my own son, Jaden, on a special holiday next week so I won’t be writing for a bit. Aloha.