Summer is a great time to head outside for a peaceful walk. Why not try taking a “listening walk”? Listening as you walk is a simple, fun mindfulness exercise that can help increase focus and calm your mind. Try this 15-minute mindful listening practice the next time you head out for a walk in your neighborhood, the park or any place of your choosing.
Start with a few deep breaths. Feel the earth beneath your feet as you begin to put one foot in front of the other. As you pay attention to your breath, the placement of your feet, your balance and the swinging motion of your body, practice listening to the sounds around you.
For the first five minutes: Try to only pay attention to sounds originating within the 2-foot radius around your body. Perhaps you hear the shuffle of your feet on the pavement surface, the rustle of your clothing or the sound of your own breath.
For the second five minutes: Extend your listening area to a 30 to 40-foot radius around your body. You may now begin to notice the sounds of cars on the road, the beeping of a crosswalk signal, the chirping of a bird in a tree or the footsteps or chatter of people around you, all in addition to the closer sounds you heard in the first five minutes.
For the third five minutes: Extend your listening area to as far as you can see and even beyond. Notice the harmony of sounds you hear, including planes in the sky, birds, traffic, people and sirens. You will be amazed at just how much you can hear.
At the end of your walk: Reflect on how you feel. You may feel energized, relaxed, or attentive and focused. You may have heard or experienced things you otherwise would not have. Taking a listening walk is a practice that frees the mind and can help you feel fully present and ready for the next task or event on your agenda.
During future walks, you can always adjust your listening distance to what is most comfortable for you. Next time, try it with a friend or with your kids! Happy walking!