As I got to the top of the hill on my walk, 20 mins after I had set off, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been so “in my head” the entire way up, mulling and churning all sorts of work stuff, that I had absolutely no recollection of how I got there. I hadn’t noticed one iota of my physical experience.
So I resolved to observe my breath for the remainder of the walk as I set off again down the hill through the woods and out into the evening light along the paths through the fields. I soon set up a regular rhythm, two paces on the in breath, two on the out breath, simply observing my breath and whatever else I noticed in or around me. I became aware of the shrill chirrup of some small bird over to my left, the smell of horse manure, the feel of the air around my body, the fallen branches that seemed to take on different forms – one a creature’s head – can you see it?! Information from my senses that I hadn’t registered at all on the way up.
When my mind started to wander, I’d gently bring it back to observing my breath again. Out now through the kissing gate into the evening sunshine to find the fields which had been full of golden wheat and were harvested a few weeks ago, were now covered in bales of straw, a beautiful sight in the soft light of early evening with the shadows starting to stretch out.
But more than all this external awareness, by focussing on my breath and cutting out the endless stream of chatter clattering around my head, I became aware of myself internally. The physical reverberations through my body each time my feet struck the ground, of my sense of self, my heart space. I became aware of a sense of peace and appreciation for the moment as I stepped through it, while negotiating my way (in shorts) along paths overgrown with brambles and nettles by the way!
I didn’t manage to hold my attention on my breath constantly for the remainder of the walk, (my head is VERY persistent) but each time I realised my mind had wandered I returned to it. It was such a relief to access that sense of space again. Even brief breaks and connection to peaceful moments are so beneficial and wonderful to experience.
You can cut the chat too. You can do it anytime, anywhere. Give yourself a break from your incessant mental whirring – a mini head holiday! Have a play. Give it a go – and please let me know what your experience is. I’d love to hear.