In the last two months, I’ve started incorporating mindfulness exercises into my daily life in an effort to battle anxiety and depression. Mindfulness exercises are 3-5 blips where you deliberately concentrate on an activity through assessing your senses, emotions, or memories.
For instance, you could do a “mindful listening” exercise where you put on classical music and then concentrate on only listening for the violin. One that I really liked was the “mindful eating” challenge, where you take your favorite flavored skittle and really concentrate on eating that one skittle for the 3-5 minutes. For me, it was the purple skittle, which was a walk down memory lane of my childhood with grape Hubba-Bubba gum.
This last Saturday I tried the “mindful walking” exercise while hiking with the 3-month-old puppy. The task during the walk is to concentrate on the aspects of the walk for 3-5 minutes. The crunch of dried sticks and leaves under my hiking boots. The shimmer of sunbeams coming through the trees. The tug on my wrist from the puppy’s leash. The rustle of leaves in the wind. The coolness of the creek as it splashes on my shins as I cross a stone bridge. The smell of water-moss-mud on the creek beds. The tension in my quads from climbing inclines.
For the first time, I also incorporated scripture in the mindful walking because scripture actually tells us to be mindful and meditate on what God has provided for us (including the nature found during a hike).
It seemed appropriate to start with Psalm 145:5 (NET) which states “I will focus on your honor and majestic splendor, and your amazing deeds.” In the NKJV of the same verse, it states, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”
Keeping in mind the scriptural guidance of focusing on the splendor of God and meditating on His wondrous works, brought a whole new level to the mindful walking exercise!
The tug of the puppy’s leash doesn’t just become a sensation of my arm, it becomes gratitude that God created this puppy and that the puppy is part of our family. The rustling of the wind in the treetops doesn’t just become a wonderous noise in the background, it becomes a reminder of God’s faithfulness to give me shade from those treetops and a cool breeze on my sweaty brow.
I wasn’t just centering myself in an exercise to control my anxiety…I was actually acknowledging God’s abundant gifts that are literally all around us! I was following the direction in Psalm 96:12 (NET) “Let the fields and everything in them celebrate. Then let the trees of the forest shout with joy.”
A mindful exercise that is full of celebration and joy! I hope this next week is mindful for you too!