Walking Challenge & Mindfulness Walks

Wise Walker Badge, Step 3

To complete Step 3 of the Wise Walker Badge, we committed to walking every day and explored the concept of mindful walking! We are always in for a good challenge. Gretchen Rubin’s Walk 20 in 20 Challenge inspired us to include a daily walk into our lives – no matter the weather. We were also excited to try out mindfulness walks. What a great way to incorporate a little awareness into our daily stroll!

Earlier in this badge, we covered the mental and physical health benefits and took a lesson on walking with good form to avoid injury.

20 in 20 Challenge

We first heard about the Walk 20 in 20 Challenge on the Happier Podcast. The podcast is hosted by two sisters (which we love) Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft. We have long been fans of these amazing and inspiring happiness gurus! They began their walking challenge in January of 2020. They encouraged their listeners to become more active by walking 20 minutes everyday in 2020. This should be in addition to walking to and from your car or other walks you would typically take in an average day. This sounds easy, but considering we live in Michigan, we knew it would be more of a challenge.

Dressing appropriately for the weather makes any outdoor activity much more enjoyable!

Badges For All

We jumped on the challenge and quickly incorporated Walk 20 in 20 into our Goals for 2020. Daily walks are easy to track in our bullet journals, but actually doing the walk in the bitter Michigan weather is another thing entirely. I quickly learned that dressing appropriately for the weather makes any outdoor activity much more enjoyable! This is a major life lesson for me. I cannot lie, I did have a few daily walks on my treadmill, but only when the weather was especially bad.

It did not take long to notice the benefits to taking daily walks. I began noticing changes in the weather and appreciating even slight increases in temperature. I noticed when the grass began to turn bright limey green and the increase in birds and rabbits running around the neighborhood as winter eased into spring. I began to chat more with my neighbors and find out what was happening in their lives. The fresh air was invigorating and moving my body after being housebound was a welcome relief. I also must mention that daily walks have recently given me some much needed alone time from the family!

We highly recommend participation in the Walk 20 in 20 Challenge. Find out more about it by visiting Gretchen’s website or listening to the podcasts listed below.

Mindfulness Walk

I have always struggled with sitting still while meditating, so the idea of meditating while walking was very appealing to me. I was excited when I came across the book Five-Minute Mindfulness Walking. It caught my eye because I thought it would make a great birthday gift for my brother-in-law who was leading fitness walks as part of his job. Shortly after deciding to work on a walking badge I remembered this book and quickly ordered myself a copy.

This delightful little book is a quick read. It contains 12 chapters, each with a short mindfulness lesson and then several short mindfulness exercises to try. The introduction reminds us that mindfulness is a way to be entirely present in our actual life (not worrying about the future or ruminating on the past). This message really resonated with me. It reminded me that the worldwide pandemic is out of my control. Do not worry about the future but enjoy today and focus on the things I can control. The book encourages readers to use the motion of walking to anchor the body to the present moment; to what is real and what is important.

Examples of Five Minute Mindfulness Walk Exercises

  • Focus on Contact with the Ground – Observe the many sensations of the physical act of walking.
  • Trying Different Walking Speeds – What speed helps you stay focused?
  • Labeling Sensations with One Word – Notice “lifting, moving, contacting, bending”-connect the mind and the body.
  • Take the Puppy Mind for a Walk – Imagine your mind is a puppy on a walk, when it starts to wander-lead it back.
  • Touring the Five Senses – Use the five senses as objects of concentration.
  • Beneficial Mind States – Notice your mindset and set an intention to grow a positive one.
  • Loving Kindness – When you approach a living being silently offer them good wishes, notice how this effects you. See the video below for an example of a Loving Kindness walk.

We got together on two separate occasions to try mindfulness walking. On the first day we had some pretty dreary, rainy weather. We actually did the first few exercises in our house! We then ventured outside in the rain for the Touring the 5 Senses exercise. On a much nicer weather day we visited the MSU walking trails for the Mind States and Loving Kindness exercises. We were lucky to have a nice day to enjoy the river and other nature! The video above captures our walks at MSU.

I have really enjoyed the short but thoughtful mindfulness lessons throughout the book. I found them extremely relevant to my daily life as I am reevaluating what is truly important. I have found the lessons profound and have repeated them almost daily to both my teenage children and myself. I did find the actual act of mindfulness walking somewhat difficult to do as a group (especially as we are quite chatty by nature). I feel it is best to discuss the lessons together and then go out for the walk by yourself. Perhaps coming back together to discuss following the walk.

I highly recommend this book and these short mindfulness walk exercises. I feel like the lessons learned will enhance not only my daily walks but all areas of my life.

When do you feel the most mindful when walking? Have you tried a dedicated mindfulness walk before? Are you doing the Walk 20 in 2020 challenge? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below, send us a message, or reach out on Facebook or Instagram!

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