Ways of walking – mindfulness and nature

mindfulness and walking in nature - counselling outdoors in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott


On my various journeys to work, I notice how easy it is to get caught up in the plans for the day, anxieties about meetings or tasks, what I will do for lunch. Sometimes, on a bad day, I can get to where I work and not really have noticed the journey at all. I may even have crossed roads, encountered people and things of beauty, and none of it registered.

One way I’ve been making a change is to consciously choose to bring my attention to the walk itself as an act of mindfulness. Walking meditation is a wonderfully embodied way of being in the present. Paying heed to your breath, the rise and fall of your feet, the contact of the ground and nothing more or less.

In connecting with breath, footstep, body, time becomes less relevant. All that matters is the right here, right now and while I might notice the sensation of my feet in contact with the ground, the feeling of the air on my skin, the noises around and my thoughts which come and go, there is no pressure to get immersed in any of that. It’s just an act of noticing.

Another way of walking I’ve been playing with is ‘just noticing.’ Have you had that experience where you pass the same place each day and after a long while, years maybe, something leaps out at you and you think, ‘I never noticed that; is it new?’ with the likelihood it’s been there an age?

‘Just noticing’, is about using your curious attention to delight in the world around you. To see the leaves moving in the wind, the scent of a rose as you walk past it, the courtship dance of the male pigeon, the vibrant paint colour, the laughter of children.

What brought ‘just noticing’ to my attention was a walk to work one day, following behind a father and young son. Along the way the boy cried out, ‘that bird is so loud’. And I was shocked to realise I had heard no bird, I was so caught up in my thoughts.

So whether it’s a walk to work, to meet a friend, going to the shop, wherever you are, if you have the opportunity to walk mindfully, or ‘just notice’ have a go and see what comes up. It’s a wonderfully grounding way of being, that stills something in you, just for a while, and puts you in deeper contact with yourself.

If you’d like to explore how mindfulness and counselling can help, why not get in touch for a first appointment.

By Matt Fox – Matt Fox Counselling Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott

Photo by Atilla Kefeli licensed under creative commons.