Dacher Keltner I’m Dacher Keltner. Welcome to your Happiness Break, where on each episode we do a practice to make us feel happier and we learn about the science behind why it works. So often in life, we’re totally unaware of how our bodies are feeling, the sensations, the movements. So in today’s Happiness Break, we’re going to tune in to our physical sensations through a walking meditation. You can do this anywhere. You just need to be in a place where you can walk 15 short paces without anything obstructing your path. Although it might seem silly or awkward, this mindful walking practice has been shown to improve the way we experience our lives in so many important ways. Research has shown that doing this practice just twice a week for a month leads people to feel happier and less stressful. When researchers in the Netherlands had people try this practice outdoors in nature, they found that it boosted their moods, and that as their mood lifted, so did their mindfulness and vice versa. It was really an upward spiral of improved well-being. Meditation overall supports your heart function, your sleep, as well as eating and exercise habits.
So find somewhere that will work for you. When you’re ready, we’ll get started. Stand on one end of your walking space, facing the direction you’re going to walk in. Take a few deep, calm breaths. Now bring your awareness to your legs. Make sure you’re not locking your knees, there’s a soft bend in each. And notice how your legs feel. Notice how your weight is distributed throughout each foot. Now pick up your right foot to take a step and place just your right heel down. Then very deliberately place the rest of your right foot down, shifting your weight from the back of your right foot toward the front. As you do this, notice how the back of your left foot naturally rises. When your right foot is totally on the ground, complete a tiny step forward with your left foot. And then, just as deliberately, take another step with the right foot. And repeat. One step, on pace with this sound, for 10 steps. Don’t worry about your hands. They can be clasped behind you, or in front, or just hanging at your sides.
Moving slowly, mindfully with the music. When you reach the other side, turn around and go back again. When you notice your mind wandering, as all our minds do, gently bring your awareness back to your feet, your heels, your toes touching the ground. Now pause where you are, bringing your awareness to your feet, to your legs. Maybe feeling gratitude for them, for the body that they carry.
Take a moment to scan your body once more. Take stock of how you’re feeling right now. What do you notice about your heartbeat? How’s your breath? How does your body feel now compared to a few minutes ago? I’m Dacher Keltner. Thanks for taking this Happiness Break with me.