Last week I was having a rough time. At my Dr P appointment, he suggested we take what he called a “mindfulness walk”. We went outside and he spent the majority of our session guiding me through the walk and giving me pointers on it.
I felt noticeably better than I did when I’d arrived at his office, so I’ve added this to my list of tools that I can use to help myself when I’m feeling down.
Here’s what we did.
The weather was pleasant so we went outside of the building and started walking around the neighbourhood. Dr P asked me some questions and got me to pay attention to what was going on around me.
What kinds of smells were there outside? I was able to smell the earthy scent of fallen leaves and the pleasant smell of freshly cut grass.
How did the wind feel as it moved against my skin, hair, and clothing? Did it feel cool? Did it leave me feeling any different? How did it feel as I breathed it in and back out?
What could I see? The different colours in the leaves, the difference in leaves between different kinds of trees, the erratic patterns of the cracks in the pavement, the differing colour of the houses and their lawn ornaments, even the drastic differences in the colour between the different vehicles parked along the street. Geese flying up above, squirrels running along tree limbs, and even other people we passed by. Brightly coloured and mottled fish going slowly about their day at the base of a fountain, slight flicks of their tails propelling them lazily through the water.
What could I hear? Traffic from the next block over that sounded almost like constant static instead of individual moving cars. The chatter of water falling from the fountain where the fish lived, the whoosh of a car as it approached and then moved away, the wavering sound of a lawn mower in the distance up ahead. The honking geese and chittering squirrels.
We picked up some leaves and spent some time concentrating on them – their colour, shape, texture, and how quickly they warmed up in our hands. Some of the plants were a surprise and didn’t feel anything like I expected them to based on how they looked.
There is an incredible amount of stuff out there to pay attention to. Don’t judge anything as being good or bad, it’s just something to experience. It’s easy enough to say, “Wow, those cracks in the road are terrible,” but it’s more important to just concentrate on the cracks themselves. Are there plants or moss growing out of them? Are they jagged or pretty straight? Do they branch off a lot? Just look at everything for what it is.
Autumn is here and the weather is now grey and gloomy. I think I’m going to try going to one of the large grocery stores in the area one day when it’s not busy and see if I can do a mindfulness walk in there. If I can, then I’ll be able to do that no matter how cold, hot, or rainy it is outside. A grocery store would be interesting – there are a lot of sights, smells, textures, and sounds in there.
Doing walks like this helps me concentrate on the present – the world around me. If I concentrate on the present, it helps to put the things I’m worrying about or have no control over on the back burner, at least for a little while. Sometimes a bit of a break can do wonders.