If You Only Get a Few Minutes Outdoors, Walk Mindfully

How to establish a connection with earth.

by Greta Rossi – Recipes for Wellbeing, April 21, 2020

It’s now my seventh (or eighth? I've lost track) week in lockdown and one of the things I miss the most is going for long walks and hikes in nature. Almost four years ago, I made the decision to leave London (after seven years) and move back to rural Italy. I chose to move to a countryside village surrounded by lush green hills that would allow me to be fully immersed in nature within minutes (if you are curious, check it out here).

For the past two months, I have been looking at those same green hills from my window on the third floor – oh, how far and inaccessible they seem right now! I am dreaming of the moment I will be allowed to get lost in them again, appreciating the healing power of Nature. Until then, I have had to adapt my approach to Nature to make the most of the limited time I get to spend outdoors. I don’t have a garden and lockdown measures are still pretty strict here in Italy, which means I only get around 30 minutes of time outdoors a week, which corresponds to my weekly trip to the groceries. I know many of you are in a similar situation, so the practice I would like to share today will come in handy.

I am referring to the practice of mindful walking, which is a specific form of meditation that you can do alone or with others (once you are allowed to be with others again, of course!). It’s a great practice because of its simplicity and immediateness – you only need a few minutes and somewhere to walk to, like from your car to your office, from your house to the trash bins, or even from one room to another one inside your own flat (if you can’t go out). Moreover, this practice can be used at the beginning of walking meetings to allow your team members to fully “arrive” and be present with themselves, with each other, and with the surrounding environment, before diving deep into the topic of your conversation. Or it can be used at the end of your walking meeting to create a quiet and reflective space for your team members to absorb the meeting’s experience and consolidate their learnings. If you have never done a walking meeting with your team before, I highly encourage you to try it! Nietzsche reminds us that, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” and I can assure you that the best decisions I have taken in my life (be they personal or professional) have emerged during walks in Nature.

The following practice has been taken from the book Touching Peace by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh. In this book, he shares his teachings on practicing the art of mindful living through practical tips to expand and deepen your meditation practice into your daily life. This particular activity reminds you that walking meditation is one of the best ways to touch the Earth. As you discover your interconnectedness to all life, you realise that the Earth has the power to heal you, and you have the power to heal the Earth. So, put your shoes on (or remove your socks if inside the house) and take the first step of your mindful walk to reconnect to yourself, others, and Nature.

You can access the full guidelines HERE. The theme for the next month is Meaningful May so the next blog post will look at ways to access your purpose.

About Greta and Recipes for Wellbeing

Greta Rossi is a changemaker involved in multiple not-for-profit initiatives, including Recipes for WellbeingAkasha InnovationPitch Your Failure, and ChangemakerXchange. Recipes for Wellbeing works towards shifting the culture of changemaking to include a focus on holistic wellbeing to enable anyone to contribute more effectively to creating positive change in the world. From freely accessible wellbeing recipes, through wellbeing talks and workshops, to immersive wellbeing labs, we make wellbeing accessible to changemakers and their teams. If you’d like to host a talk, workshop, or retreat for your team or organisation, reach out to us at info@recipesforwellbeing.org.

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