Today’s activity is a practice in taking mindful steps. This is a practice that can be done any time you are walking somewhere. It is an activity that lets us pay extra attention to the journey we make from one place to another.
We will begin by standing up tall and finding our mountain pose. If you are comfortable closing your eyes, you can close them for the next few moments. Grow your roots into the ground and become strong and tall like a mountain, reaching your head up to the sky like the tippy top of a mountain’s peak. Turn your palms to face forward and inhale as you roll your shoulders up by your ears, then exhale to let them role down your back. Do this three more times on your own, moving with your breath.
Now that we are strong and grounded, we can be even more mindful in the way that we walk. Being present means that we are paying extra attention to what we are doing so we can get the most out of every moment. Mindful walking is walking while paying extra attention to the way we are moving, the place we are walking in, and how we feel while walking. It takes our minds off of where we are going to end up, and lets us have fun getting there. Have you ever driven somewhere with your parents and kept wondering when you’d get there? Mindful walking is like you are driving, but you are noticing everything around you so much that you don’t even think about how much time you have left to drive.
We can practice this activity by walking through the garden. Begin walking on the garden path. Notice how fast you are walking and see if you can slow down your pace. Pretend like you are walking in slow motion, and then imagine that this is the way that you walk all the time.
Begin to notice your feet lifting off of the ground and landing back down with each step you take. Notice the way that your arms move when you walk. How is your posture? Are you standing up straight or hunched over? If you are hunched, reach up through the crown of your head to make your spine long and tall again.
Now move your attention to the way you are breathing as you walk. See if you can begin to make your breath deeper. Maybe you time your inhale as you lift a foot to step, and exhale as you place it down. Continue to try this breath and movement combination and choose to stick with it if you enjoy it, or let it go if you do not.
Continue slowly walking down the path until you arrive where you started. Find your mountain pose here once more. Standing up tall with your feet planting down into the ground and your head reaching high to the sky. Turn your palms to face forward and roll your shoulders down your back. Find your breath filling up the belly as you breathe in and emptying the belly as you breathe out.
Slowly open your eyes when you are ready. How did that feel?
Teacher Tips: This is a great activity for a pleasant day when you have time to get the kids out into the garden. It is a wonderful way to tame high levels of physical energy, since the activity involves both physical movement and mental concentration. Engage the students in reflection at the end of the activity.
Student Tips: This is a great activity to practice absolutely anytime you are walking somewhere. You can make any trip relaxing, whether it is walking to the park to meet up with friends or walking to your classroom. See if you can use mindful steps to make going somewhere you might not like a mindfulness activity.