Area Guides

Mindful Walking: A Simple Practice for a Clearer Mind

We hear the word mindfulness a lot. As a combatant against the busyness of life, as a soother of stress, like a holistic medicine for the soul, but what is it and how can combining it with walking help to clear our mind.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about paying attention, to feelings and thoughts; sounds, smells and sensations. It is the practice of bringing ourself into the present moment by noticing everything that’s happening ‘now.’

To be mindful’ points to practicing a way of being, a moment-by-moment gentle and nurturing awareness of our emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations… research backs up anecdotal evidence that obtaining a mindful brain can lead to a happier and more productive life

(Shapiro, 2020; Williams & Penman, 2016).’ –


Pair this mindfulness with stepping outside and you have a wonderful tool, that if practiced, can be used to ease stress and tension, and calm and clear the mind on any given day.

As cyclic natural creatures, we are part of the natural world and so it’s no wonder that being in nature has a healing and calming effect on us when we’re away from the buzz of technology and the distractions of our phones, TVs and social media.

What is mindful walking?

Mind-less walking is what most of us do every day. To get to the kettle, the car, the supermarket or the office. It’s automatic and it’s probably jam-packed with multi-tasking every thought except the one that focuses on the present moment.

They’re not the most exciting parts of life but when we’re always looking ahead, thinking about the next thing, we forget to experience or appreciate even the small moments in life. This is also when life’s stresses can overwhelm us and anxiety can creep in.

The beauty of mindful walking is that it can be experienced anywhere; on a lane, up a hill, in a park or even walking through town. It’s not the physical act of walking here that is important, it’s our mental state during that walk that matters.

Taking a break and heading out for regular mindful walks can be fulfilling and restorative. Reconnecting with the ‘here and now’ can help clear our minds on the busiest of days. Or when we’re feeling anxious and distracted. Learning how to regain control of our thoughts through the practice of mindfulness to calm ourselves can be an empowering tool.

Mindful walking can be practiced anywhere at any time, but if you find you get easily distracted, be kind to yourself and choose a park or green space with less distractions, over a bustling high street.

 Mindful walking exercise


  • Spend only about thirty seconds on each feeling or sensation; assessing and observing in that moment and then move on.
  • If your mind starts to wander or distract, simply acknowledge it and bring your thoughts back to the present moment.


Firstly, remove the biggest distraction – turn your phone off or onto ‘flight mode.’

  • As you start walking notice how you feel in your body; a nice way to do this is to start with the head and move methodically down the body. Observe how you’re carrying yourself, how your shoulders feel, how your legs are moving – feeling light or heavy.
  • Move your awareness to your surroundings. The sounds, the smells and sensations… Birdsong, cars, the rustle of leaves, trees blowing in the breeze, the distant chatter of other people. Think about what you can smell and whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, and if it reminds you of something or somewhere.
  • Now concentrate on what you can see… Don’t simply notice the tree but look at it, the texture of the bark, the leaves, the shape its branches make. Look at the sky, its colour, note whether there are clouds and if they’re moving quickly or slowly.
  • Shift awareness to your movement and the sensations of being outside. The action of walking, the rhythm you’ve created, how that affects your breath, the feeling of each step as it touches the ground, the temperature of the air around you, can you feel the breeze on your skin, is it warm or cool.
  • If you want to and there’s a good place to do it, take a moment to sit down and continue to take notice of your surroundings, feelings, sensations in this moment.


The more you practice mindfulness the easier you will find it to focus and stay present, and the more you will notice in your day-to-day life. At our New Forest hotel there are endless opportunities for mindful walking and ‘forest therapy;’ a practice that has shown to greatly improve mood and concentration; boost creativity, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol.

Consider a hotel break or spa break to give you essential time to practice mindful walking; set aside life’s distractions and walk under ancient trees, to tranquil ponds, on coastal paths and winding tracks through heathland to help you to clear the mind, regain control over your thoughts and discover the nourishment of mindfulness in nature.