My walks take on more meaning since I read Free Your Breath, Free Your Life- How Conscious Breathing Can Relieve Stress, Increase Vitality, and Help You Live More Fully by Dennis Lewis. He gives us the following Conscious Walking Practice:
1. Learning the Art of Walking: First step is awareness or being mindful about yourself. How do you feel and what is your motive when walking? Are you in a hurry, anxious, or tense, which will bring on discomfort and quick exhaustion? The art of conscious walking depends on the rhythmical and harmonious movement of all parts of your body without unnecessary tension.
2. Opening and Closing the Joints of Your Body: Allow your pelvis to swing naturally to open & close the joints, support movement of blood, exercise all internal tendons, ligaments and muscles. Conscious walking opens up your breathing spaces. Neuroscientist Candace Pert tells us “Let the opposite hand swing forward with each step…Somehow this sets left brain-right brain information flowing, breaking up old patterns of worry and rumination.”
3. Becoming Aware of Your Feet: See if you can discover a gentle rolling motion, in conjunction with the swinging motion of your arms and pelvis? This helps release tension in the feet, legs, pelvis, and relaxes the shoulders. Bring your awareness to how grounded you feel.
4. Sense Your Breathing: Breathing reaches deeper down in the body when tension is released from the way we walk. As this occurs, the efficiency and capacity of your respiratory system increases. You are able to walk longer with less fatigue and feel more energetic.
5. Walking Inside the Energy Atmosphere of Your Breath: Visualize you are walking inside the atmosphere of your breath. This atmosphere surrounds and interacts with the body as you walk. This breath energy is your life force.
6. The Art of Walking Begins with Awareness: Mindful walking supports our health and well-being. Awareness Walking can share some of the same benefits as practicing tai chi or qigong.