This morning I went for a walk with my friend Vicky and her lovely baby, Alexander.
We were talking about ways to calm an upset baby and it got me thinking about mindful walking and what a useful tool it is for a parent trying to calm their little one.
When I was in Vietnam this summer I went to a Meditation session with a Buddhist monk. We did a session of mindful walking.
I have done sessions on mindful walking in the past and they have always involved slowing the walking action right down and really feeling the earth beneath your feet. If you can keep your mind on the sensation of your feet you certainly feel like you have had a break from everything else.
In the session in Vietnam we took a different approach. We did slow our pace right down but we also matched each step to a breath. So we did an out breath each time we put a foot down. This was a challenge and kept our minds occupied and therefore free from worry! Slowing the body and the breath down naturally slows the mind. Perfect.
There is a potential problem with this approach. You might find it difficult to keep the breath as slow as it needs to be for the pace you can manage to walk. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of practise to slow it all down so that the breath and the walking rhythm match.
As an alternative, and to look more normal if you want to do it on the street, you could try simply watching how many steps you tae for each breath. For example you may take 3 steps on an in breath and 4 on the out breath. After a short while you will start to find the natural connection between your breath and your steps.
Which ever style of mindful walking you decide to try always remember to put a smile on your face. This will relax your facial muscles and will lead you into an amazing state of balance and relaxation.
If you are doing the breathing exercises as you walk with a baby in your arms you will notice that your smile and steady breathing make all the difference. You child will calm in no time. Their state of calm will begin to reflect yours. Amazing!