Mindfulness is becoming a household term. What if we could develop habits as part of our daily routine that not only help us remain calm and focused but are also good for our bodies? What if we could be kinder to our bodies in the process, developing healthy lifelong habits that help us to exercise for our whole lives?
Learning to walk and run more mindfully can do just that.
I've absolutely loved reading around this subject, and the latest book that I have read is one of the best if you are interested in the mindful (and even spiritual?) side of Chi Running Walking... or if you are just interested in stress reduction. The book is 'How To Walk' by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Each page of the book is like a mini lesson in mindfulness itself and I suggest you should only read one or two pages at a time. Do this, and it will make an excellent guide for anyone who wishes do explore what we mean when we say Chi Walking (and Running) should be best approached as a mindful practice. If you are a runner, I challenge you to have a go at Chi Walking. The practise of checking in with your posture and relaxing your body throughout the movement patterns of your daily life will help you to focus on your body more deeply, be more aware of how you move and also become a more relaxed walker and runner. If you can't get the Chi Running focusses right walking, how will you do this when you are running?
Try this exercise from the book, and maybe tweak it to add your favrourite Chi Walking focus such as lengthening from the crown of your head as you walk:
When you are alone, you can practise slow walking meditation. Choose a distance of about three metres, or ten feet, and as you traverse that distance, take one step for each in-breath and one step for each out-breath. With the first step you can say silently, "I have arrived." With the next step, you can say silently, "I am home." If you aren't arriving one hundred percent in the here and now, stay there and don't take another step. Challenge yourself. Breathe in and out again until you feel you have arrived one hundred percent in the here and the now. Then smile a smile of victory. Then make a second step. This is to learn a new habit, the habit of living in the present moment.
So - have a go and let me know how you get on! When you've tried that, how about developing the skill of staying in the here and now for short periods of time when you are running. Wouldn't it be great if we could centre ourselves more deeply in the here and now whenever we chose during a run. This would be really useful whether it's during an important section of a race or just a nice calming run when all we want to do it switch off from work.