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Mindful ActivityWalking in the City

Walking in the City

It’s easy to feel distracted when walking within the hustle and bustle of a busy environment. By bringing attention to your awareness, the mind can calm and allow you to feel more connected with your body and the world around you.

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So as you continue walking now, just continue walking in the same way that you have been up until this point. And I'd just like you to begin by just noticing the movement of the body. So as you walk along, just notice how the body moves, not just in the legs and the feet, but also the upper body. You might even notice your posture and how you hold your body as you walk. Don't worry, it's very normal to feel quite self-conscious as you bring your attention to the body in this way. But just getting a feel for the way in which the body moves as you walk along. You're still aware of everything around you, the sounds, things you can see, the smells. So there's a very gentle focus in the body, still aware of everything around you. And then as you continue walking now, just starting to notice the rhythm of the legs moving. Again, really important to maintain awareness of everything that's going on around you, to continue walking in a very natural way. But just noticing the rhythm of the left leg, right leg, left leg, right leg. And you might even start to notice the sensation of one foot touching the floor, pressing down, then the next foot. And this is gonna be our anchor, our point of focus that we can always come back to as we're walking, either the movement or the legs or the sensation of the foot against the floor one after the next. Don't have to walk in any special way. You don't have to do anything different than we usually do. There's just a sense of being grounded in the body, present in the environment around you. Continuing to notice the sounds, the smells, the sights. At any time if you realize that you get distracted just gently letting go of that and bringing the attention back into the body and just coming back to the rhythm of the legs and that sensation of the feet on the floor....


TypeMindful Activity
Duration3-10 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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Frequently asked questions

  • Think of a walking meditation as meditation on-the-go. And no, it doesn’t mean walking around with your eyes closed! It is an eyes-open exercise that brings body and mind in sync while out and about. Instead of the breath being the object of focus, you place your attention on the natural rhythm of your steps/walk to bring you back to the present moment whenever the mind gets distracted. Oftentimes, most people walk with their mind elsewhere — whether that’s texting someone, listening to music, or lost in thought — so a walking meditation is a practice in awareness/observation, giving you the opportunity to connect with your surroundings. In short, you pay attention to things that perhaps aren’t noticed when wandering on auto-pilot.

  • Our “Walking in the City” meditation helps bring your attention to the pace and rhythm of your stride while walking through an urban environment. Slow down and observe the soles of the feet touching the ground with each step. Notice how the body feels. Notice what you see, hear, and smell. Don’t think about these observations; simply acknowledge them without inner-commentary. Each observation keeps the mind in the present moment. Try, at first, doing a meditative walk for a few blocks, and then build up to mile by mile. Each time the mind wanders into its own thought-stream, return your attention to the rhythm of your gait/steps, and keep repeating this practice throughout your walk. Not in the city? Try a “Walking in nature,” “walking at home,” or “mindful coffee walk.”

  • Steps is a good word! And that’s what you do in a walking meditation — take things step-by-step, literally. Firstly, start walking in a gentle, unhurried manner. The first thing you’ll likely notice by slowing down is how fast everyone and everything is moving around you. As you begin, bring your attention to the soles of your feet as they touch the ground with each step. Then notice the rhythm of your gait – this becomes your object of focus where you’ll return each time the mind gets distracted. Then notice how the body feels … then what you see … then what you hear … then what smell. Noticing the senses help connect you with your surroundings. Set yourself a time or a finish point, and simply experience how relaxing a meditative walk can be.

  • It’s all too easy to slip into auto-pilot mode when walking; the legs are moving but the mind is elsewhere, thinking about something different altogether. Whatever the nature of the distracting thought — remembering, planning, or analyzing something — it removes you from the present moment. So the immediate benefit of a walking meditation is the experience of being present, connected to the direct experience of life. The other benefits are the kind that go hand-in-hand with walking generally — it helps to keep you fit, improves your mood, and recharges you. The only difference with a walking meditation is that you are keeping your mind fit at the same time. Walking can become a feel-good opportunity to align body, mind, and nature.

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