Can you feel it?
The very last of summer is lifting up through the trees, the silver birch is shedding golden leaves; the season is shifting. Cooler, darker mornings, even darker evenings and advent calendars are in the shops as consumer outlets everywhere chivvy us towards Christmas.
It’s easy to look ahead and shudder at the coming of winter, but if you can focus on the now, you’ll find autumn has an abundance today these days seems to get lost in the rush towards the year end.
Perhaps it’s a consequence of globalisation that harvest time and its festival doesn’t have the role to play it once did. We are not so reliant on what grows around us and so we don’t focus on the gift of autumn. Which seems a shame, because it is a beautiful time of year.
Developing a mindful walking practice in autumn can transform your day, and it’s so easy to do. In theory!
When we walk, what do we do? Take the dog, plan our day, plan the week, think about what we’re cooking for dinner, doing at the weekend… we plan conversations, journeys, outfits, schedules. And yes, there’s a place for this, but ‘this’, this planning, this imagining, this playing out of scenarios… it’s all future projection. And you’re not there, you’re Here and a Mindful Walk is just that – being Here.
Catch up with your senses. Let them play.
Hear the birds singing, how they call to each other, how different they sound.
Look at the light, the trees, the leaves…
Feel the air on your skin, soft like downy cashmere with its final whispers of summer warmth.
Now isn’t that better than thinking about what’s happening in the office tomorrow and planning a conversation that may never take place, and certainly won’t be anything like what’s just whistled through your head, because, let’s face it… you’ll have forgotten what you’ve just planned to say by the time you get there.
And if you can’t shut up your mind, count. Count up to 100 and then start again. That silences ‘monkey mind‘ and gives you space to be. In the now. Which is basically what mindfulness aims to achieve.
Monkey mind will start jumping up and down, trying to get your attention. Before you know it, thoughts bob up. Bouncing up and down, demanding our attention. Just let them go and start counting once more.
I keep my Mindful Walk to the woods where I’ve become able to identify different bird calls. I know where the wind blows through a gap in the silver birch avenue, muzzing my hair. When the warm air lifts from the ground shimmering and rustling the tree leaves, I know the weather is turning and rain is likely. All this feels grounding. Connecting. And in between these observances I am counting, shooing away the mind’s obsession with the future. So I can be here. Now.
Let me know how you experience this. I find Mindful Walking really connecting and grounding, but I’d love to hear others’ experiences.
Mindful Walking in Short
- Consciously disconnect from your thoughts by counting.
- Count in blocks of 100.
- If your thoughts butt in, just smile and return to counting. Where doesn’t really matter. You can’t get this wrong. No judging; this is playing!
- Let your senses have some fun. Smell the air. Listen to the birdsong. Feel the breeze against your skin, how it wraps about you.
- Consider how it feels to be completely experiencing the present.