I started a mindfulness practice about eleven years ago when I moved back to Long Beach. I'm just not very good at a sitting meditation. I can focus for about 5-15 minutes max before my neck and upper back hurt too much to keep at it. So I've found that using the time it takes me to walk to say the grocery store, or to an meeting at one of my favorite coffee houses is better.
Sometimes I focus on smiling and greeting each person I come across. In eleven years of doing this I've only had one person not smile back at me and it was obvious the she was struggling with some mental/emotional challenges.
Sometimes I take my camera with me as I did on the day above and use the time to simply notice what's going on around me as I walk. Sometimes I take pictures of flowers with color that catches my eye (you'll see some of my favorites like this one below show up in the Bike Metro #BikeInstead #WalkInstead social media outreach). In late June I was given the marvelous treat of watching a few of the street artists picked for Pow Wow Long Beach working on their murals like the one above by the bumblebee team.
Sometimes I say a loving kindness prayer for everyone person that comes to mind. My particular prayer goes something like this:
- May my Mom be free of suffering
- May my Mom be and feel loved
- May my Mom be and feel well
- May my Mom be generously provided for
- May my Mom be guided and supported to do the work she loves and express the creativity of her soul
During these walks I'm often reminded that I'm not the only one doing my best to be my best, to be my kindest and most loving self (and often failing, but there it is). I look in windows and find napping cats, and sometimes smiling Buddahs). I come away from these walks feeling more peaceful and grateful to just be here now. While I love riding my bike and that delicious feeling of the wind in my hair and moving faster than I can on my own, sometimes I prefer simply to #WalkInstead. How about you?