Mindful Walking

Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. Walking meditation is a way of bringing mindfulness into an everyday mindful movement. It can be practiced anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in a crowded city.

When you walk mindfully you focus your attention on the movements of each foot as they touch the ground, the feeling in the feet, legs and rest of body. You find that awareness in all the senses open up: what you see, hear, feel, smell and even taste. Mind in body, body walking on the ground. If your mind wanders you bring the focus back to my feet, putting one foot in front of the other. This can then transcend to an informal mindfulness practice in all the walking we do, even if you are walking with someone.

Walking in nature is particularly beneficial. Feeling the wind on the face, the beauty and smell of a meadow, hedgerows and fields full of flowers, the sound of birds, footsteps, voices, farm traffic, farmyard smells.

This amalgam of mindfulness, mindful walking and connection with nature has a number of benefits:

  • It can provide magic moments or moments of awe

  • Reduces stress and anxiety

  • Increases physical fitness and vitality

  • Gives meaning to life and enables personal growth

  • Improves happiness

  • Increases life-satisfaction

  • Promotes pro-social and pro-environmental behaviour


Here are some approaches to mindful walking:

Mindful breathing

One simple exercise involves pausing for a moment before setting out on the walk to take ten deep and slow breaths through the nostrils and notice how you feel. Later on the walk, repeat this by pausing to take ten breaths and again notice how you feel.

A more focussed mindful meditation is the Breathing Canopy. Looking up into the canopy of a tree, as you breathe in watch one leaf, as you breathe out move to another leaf – one breath, one leaf. If the tree is not in leaf, you can move out along the branch of a tree, focussing your breath to different sections until you get to the tiny twigs at the end of the branch. Your mind will wander off to other things, but gently bring it back each time to the breath and the tree.

These are some simple activities drawn from our experience of Street Wisdom. (A mindfulness walking activity usually undertaken in towns and cities.)

Slow right down

Mindful walking is very simple. Slow your walking pace down for a few minutes. Walk more slowly, but in silence if you are with someone. Focus on the walking itself, the movement of the feet, the sensations in the feet and legs, while keeping a wider awareness of your surroundings: what they can you see, hear, feel, and smell. So it’s about tuning in the senses.

At any time you can stop and reflect on your experience.

Look for patterns

Whilst walking silently and more slowly, invite participants to look for patterns. Branches of trees, leaves, seeds, mosses, flowers, stone walls, fields.

Look for the beauty in everything

Whilst walking silently and more slowly, begin to notice the beauty in everything you see. Flowers, trees , birds, the landscape, down to leaves, cobwebs, stones, rocks.

Have a Magic Moment

If you find a really beautiful spot that you connect with just STOP. Close you eyes if it is safe to do so. Take a few deeper breaths and then open them to what you can see. Start to notice at different levels of detail. Notice what your feelings and emotions are. If you have a camera, take a photo to remind you of the scene later.

Take in 360 views

If you find a high spot with a 360 view, go through the steps above but turn slowly round. Stop every 90 degrees to take in a different aspect. Notice differences in sensations, the wind or sun, smells, as you rotate.


Mindful walking is almost synonymous with savouring. You can take a drink or food with you. Find a place with a nice outlook: a view, a spot by a stream. Savour the food and the drink you have with you. Savour the whole experience.

Where to walk

You can practice mindful walking around you house or garden, on a short neighbourhood walk or on a hike in the countryside. In somewhere like the Peak district you can find a variety of habitats which could include open farmland, woodland, high moorland, ancient pathways, open water or running rivers. Spending time near water can be particularly calming. There will be gentle flat terrain or with steep rough terrain. Consider how your body moves over the different terrains. Rough terrain can be very good at focussing the mind in the present.

View-points and summits with with fantastic views ca provide those “magic moments” to focus on the beauty of the natural world.

And remember to take care of yourself.