Sensory Walks Guide Us to a Deeper Reality
Posted August 5, 2013on:
~ by Jai Cross
Our modern world is characterized by high levels of stress that diminish the joy of being alive. Much of this stress load is attributable to the effects of over-thinking, and our senses that could connect us with the physical world’s beauty and bounty are ignored as we imprison ourselves in artificial conceptual landscapes.
The sensory walk is an easily learned technique to re-establish our rightful place as sensual creatures living in a gloriously rich environment. No special tools or trainings are required to experience the revivifying benefits of reconnection to our physical inheritance. In some ways, the sensory walk is a walking meditation that directs the attention without instead of within.
To enjoy the full benefit of this perceptual exercise, allow yourself 15 or 20 minutes to sink deeply into the experience. Begin in a standing position, as you place your undivided attention on the sensations of breathing slowly and deeply. Feel the belly push out, the abdomen expand, and the chest rise on the inhalation. Then feel the chest descend, the abdomen retract, and the belly pull in on the exhalation. If distracting thoughts arise, gently let them go and refocus on the physical sensations of breathing.
Now extend your awareness to include the sensation of standing, feeling the soles of the feet while keeping a portion of your attention on the physical aspects of breathing. It may seem that you need to constantly shift your focus from the feet to the breath and back again, but practice allows you to be aware of both areas simultaneously. Our ears listen to several musical instruments playing at once, and our attention can expand to perceive different physical sensations as well. If thoughts occur, simply redirect the attention back to the breath and then extend it to include the soles of the feet.
We tend to identify so thoroughly with sight that the other senses are often overlooked. The next stage in a sensory walk is the walking part, which can be performed with eyes open or closed. If you close your eyes, first check the area to ensure that you won’t bump into any obstacles. If that is too challenging, keep the eyes open with a soft gaze to access sufficient visual information for navigation without regarding other visual stimuli.
Walk forward slowly and focus on the physical sensations of motion– the rising and falling of the feet, the transfer of weight, the balancing movements. Feel these things instead of thinking about them while remaining conscious of the breath. If the mind wanders, direct it back to the breath and then to the sensation of walking without indulging in self-judgment or mental commentary.
The next stage is to become mindful of sounds in the environment while attending to the sensations of breathing and walking, but most people will be challenged enough in monitoring the first two aspects. With repeated practice, you may advance to include skin perceptions, such as how clothing feels against your skin and the occasional caress of breezes.
Most people allow an interminable internal dialogue to capture their attention and pass through life in an unfocused day dream. The sensory walk can deepen your appreciation of your surroundings and revitalize your connection to life. You can awaken the exhilaration of direct experience and rekindle the feeling of being fully alive simply by opening your senses and dropping into the fullness of your own humanity.
HumanSpirit Radio Network is committed to bringing you uplifting and positive content (almost) every day. For more information on our free radio broadcasts: http://blogtalkradio.com/humanspiritradio