Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to walk your way to mindfulness

brave souls

I have a client who is lost in the future. Not in the literal sense, luckily, although she could come back and tell me who to bet on in this year's Super Bowl. My client is a capital-P Planner. She fights her anxiety by try to fool herself into thinking that she can predict how things are going to go. She'd love to finish school and travel with her boyfriend. She plots ways to convince him. And, all the while, she makes a very sincere effort to "live in the moment."

Living in the moment is great. But, it's hard. We work on it, together, and her thoughts come in and whisk her away to the future, where everything is planned and settled and stable and predictable. I don't blame her. She's in the middle of some tough stuff right now, and maybe the future is an easier place to be. But, in the meantime, she's not very present in classes and she's kind of waiting for things to get done so she can be happy.

Sound familiar? We'd all love to "be in the moment," but no one ever tells us how to do that. Here's something to get you started: walking mindfulness.

Next time you've got a walk of more than a few steps, take a minute before you start moving and breathe. No goals, no right or wrong, just a few deep breaths. Now, step-by-step, NOTICE your feet. Feel them touch the ground. Feel your toes. Feel your ankles. Count your steps if you want, or find a rhythm to a song. Keep breathing. Feel your foot touch the ground. Acknowledge the strength of the legs that carry you, the feet that support you, the heels that strike the ground with each step to move you where you want to be.

As the thoughts come, smile with acknowledgement, and take another step. Go back to noticing your feet, and to giving gratitude for just how amazing they are. Just find a pace, and feel your footsteps.

The more I work with clients who would like to quit feeling as though they are missing their lives, waiting for the next thing, the more I realize that it's as simple as being in your body, for better or worse. And just being there.


  1. Jeff, the more I read and reflect on your posts, the more I 1. Wish you were working at my university when I was systematically falling apart, and 2. Love the peace and challenges you give me. I am so proud to say that I know you and that you are a part of my life, even if it's just through fragile threads of ones and zeroes. You are the best. Thanks for all the love you put out there every day.

  2. What an absolutely love comment. Thank you! Please feel free to email any suggestions for posts. :)

    Be well!