Starting a mindfulness practice can seem intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. David Cox, Chief Medical Officer a Headspace, proves it. He calls it walking mindfully, or practicing mindfulness while you walk.
Step one: Pick a route that you walk every day and make that your mindful mile.
It can be the walk to work, taking your dog for a walk or maybe it's the trip home from dropping the kids off at school. Even a five minute walk twice a day will give you enough time to really get into it.
Step two: You have to actually remember to do it.
That may sound obvious, but it isn't. We're constantly on-the-go or rushing out the door in the morning, so being mindful isn't likely to be top of mind.
Pay attention to your surroundings. You know those streets and buildings you ignore every day? Take a look around and see what's a part of your environment. Then, pay attention to what you hear. At first, that will most likely be whatever is loudest, like traffic or construction. Listen to those. Then listen for quieter noises, like the birds overhead or the sound of your footsteps.
This is all leading up to the key element - paying attention to the sensation on the soles of your feet as you take each step. The repetition of your steps is analogous to the repetition of breathing. This is the focal point of the practice. Pay attention to as much detail as possible as you're walking. What does it feel like to push off one foot and lead with the other? What does it feel like when your foot touches the ground?
Has your mind started to wander? That's OK. In fact, that's sort of the whole point. The ultimate goal of walking mindfully is to learn and notice when your mind wanders off. When you get lost in thought, notice what you're thinking about, then bring yourself back to the present moment. The more you practice, the better you will get. All you need is a few minutes each day to let yourself take in your surroundings, let your mind wander, then bring yourself back to the present moment.
Not only are you getting in-the-moment relaxation effects of meditation, but by doing these reps, you're training your brain to control racing thoughts.