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Wind DownMindful Walking for Sleep

Mindful Walking for Sleep

To avoid creating a negative association with your bed, when you really can’t sleep it’s best to get up and do something relaxing. This mindful walking exercise will put the body in motion, with the goal of calming the mind.

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Hi, I'm sorry you can't sleep. It might sound a bit counter-intuitive but many sleep scientists suggest getting up and doing something else when you can't sleep. The idea is not to do something that will make you go to sleep, but just something enjoyable and relaxing. A little walking meditation is a great option. We're not trying to force sleepiness, we're just being aware if sleepiness does arise. This kind of walking exercise is really useful when the mind is racing or when the body is feeling a bit restless. You're not going to need to make any loud noises so you needn't worry about waking anyone up but you will need a little bit of space. Maybe find a room that's not too close to where anyone is asleep. I'm going to encourage you to walk incredibly slowly at times. So it's important that you feel comfortable and there aren't too many distractions around you. Ideally, this is done where you can walk in a straight line backwards and forwards, sort of anywhere between 10 and 20 paces. So it requires almost a runway where you can walk up in one direction, pause, turn around and come back in the other. So just taking a moment before you begin to walk, just to pause, to feel the sensation of the feet on the ground. A nice, soft focus with the eyes. Just take a big, deep breath, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. And as you breathe out through the mouth just beginning to walk. So to begin with just walking naturally, normal speed, walking down, pausing, turning around and walking back again. Just getting comfortable bringing the mind into the body, noticing how the body feels as you walk. Starting to notice the movement of the body, maybe the arms, the legs, the hands, or the feet. But in particular, that movement of the legs, the rhythm of the legs, moving back and forth, starting to slow it down just a little bit. Not too much, but just a little bit so each and every time you set out to walk slowing it down by just 10% each time. And as you're walking now, starting to notice the sensation of the foot pressing against the floor, so the feeling of one foot pressing down and that pressure just easing off as you lift the foot and the next foot pushing down. The sensation of it lifting up. So just settling into that rhythm of the feet pressing against the floor beneath you. Still aware of the space around you, still aware of the rest of the body, but just starting to slow down now, walking a lot more slowly as you just rest the attention on the sensation of one foot and then the next, and then the next, and the next just staying with that rhythm. At any time you get distracted, just noticing it, letting it go and bringing the attention...


TypeWind Down
Duration3-10 min

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  • 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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