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Five Senses Walking Challenge

walking meditation

Join me for a 5 day walking meditation challenge!  

So here's the challenge: 10 minutes of walking each day for five days choose one of your five senses as your focus.  The only rule is to be fully present - that means no headphones, keep your cell phone in your pocket on silent and no friends to talk to.  Focus squarely on the one sense you've chosen for that day.  

If you're having trouble staying focused, try these suggestions:

Day 1:  Sight.  Look at everything you can possible see.  Pay attention to details, the grass, the trees, your neighbors house, the colors, the cars.  Write a small paragraph about everything you see like you’re describing a photograph.
Day 2:  Smell.  What does the air smell like?  Are people cooking?  Can you smell the flowers?  Do you smell the grass?  How does the weather smell - snow, heat, rain?  What did you notice on your walk?
Day 3:  Touch.  Notice how your feet feel on the ground.  How does your body feel when it’s walking?  Do you notice any aches and pains?  How does the temperature feel on your skin?  Take some time to touch a leaf or a flower.  
Day 4:  Taste.  This is a tough one.  What kind of taste do you have in your mouth? Can you taste the air?  What does it remind you of?  Does it make you want to eat a certain type of food?
Day 5:  Sound.  What are the sounds you’re taking in?  City noise?  Sirens, Children, Birds, Bugs.  The sound of your own footsteps?  Can you hear your breathing, your heartbeat?  What do you hear? Is there are a song in your head? Is there a rhythm to your movement?

I believe that if you want to make a positive change in your life, it has to challenge your mind, have a valid purpose, and be sustainable.  Simply, I mean it should make sense in your everyday life.  For example, I've been trying to learn to speak French for years - checking out books and CDs at the library, watching French movies and TV shows, evening singing French music.  But it won't stick, because French has no place in my everyday life.  Yet, when I was in high school, taking German class everyday, I learned a good amount.  The real learning stuck when I started writing in my diary in German to keep my sister from reading it.  My mind was definitely challenged. Keeping my sister out was a very valid purpose.  It was sustainable as long as I continued to learn German.  As soon as I left home for college, protecting my secret thoughts wasn't as much of a priority and the habit changed, back to English.  

To make positive change you can stick with; the new habit has to be stimulating, purposeful and sustainable. 

The challenge I'd like to give you has the potential to be all of those things.  I would like you to simply walk for ten minutes each day for five days.  There's a challenge in that for everyone - either an increase in physical fitness or a decrease.  If you drive to the mailbox, this will probably seem like a lot to ask.  If you're at the gym everyday or just finished a marathon, this will seem condescending.  Hear me out.  Your walk isn't just a walk, it's a meditation.  Each day, I want you to really focus on one of your five senses - seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling.  For ten minutes, control your thoughts to just one sense, of course the others will be in play, but make one your primary focus.  This will not only challenge your mind, but help you to experience your constantly changing environment in an entirely new way.  

Secondly, you must make your walk purposeful.  If you have a dog, take him for a walk.  If you live in a city, walk to work, the train, etc.  If you're at work, walk to lunch.  You get the picture.  Well, sort of.  As humans we like to be efficient.  We've all heard that you can shed a few pounds by taking the stairs.  This is true.  But there's a reason why elevators exist - and it's not because people are lazy.  Elevators exist because it's generally faster to go straight up in a machine than to zig-zag up the stairs exerting your own body's energy.  You can try to take the stairs everyday, but one day you'll be late or another day you'll have heavy things to carry and you'll be back on the elevator because, honestly, it just makes more sense.  It's efficient.  Your walk needs to have a purpose in itself that isn't just physical fitness.  For me, experiencing my environment and the peace of mind I gain from being quiet in nature is enough, but to throw in a little motivation, I realized that walking from my home to my office is actually faster than driving, calling a taxi or even riding my bike.  You might need to just find that one place you can walk to that is the most efficient for you.  Most importantly, make your walk purposeful.

Lastly, walking is sustainable for life.  You can run a marathon, lift weights and go to aerobics classes all week at the gym, but at some point, that's going to fail.  Walking is something we don't need to learn.  There's no need to condition for it.  You don't need to change clothes (and really for a short walk - you don't even need special shoes).  Most importantly, walking is the one thing I'm hoping to still be able to do when I'm 100 years old.  That's sustainable.

After five days of walking, you might see your world a little differently.  You might find that your stress levels are different, that you're thinking clearer or that you've had some great new ideas.  You might find that the rewards you get from a short walk are purpose enough to continue these daily walks or to extend them for longer. 


If you seek creative ideas, go walking.
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
- Raymond I. Myers


Two Weeks and I'm Hooked... Sue
Palms on the ground, amazing!... Amy K.
Helping a client with Multiple Sclerosis... Estelle Harford

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