Dossier: Strong mind

Walk yourself happy

Step-by-step to happiness: walking can have a big impact on your health. Especially when combined with mindfulness.

Text: Jessica Braun; photo: Sanitas

This form of meditation isn’t a walk in the park. It is designed to bring body and mind in sync while we’re out and about. You can do it with a partner in the fresh air. Or, if you prefer to be alone, you can find a secluded spot or try it indoors.

It’s simple:

  • Find a quiet spot where you can take 15 steps to and fro.
  • Take 15 steps along the route you’ve chosen. Then pause for as long as you like. When you’re ready, turn around and walk back in the opposite direction. And pause again.
  • The goal is to be mindful of the movements that we usually do on auto-pilot. Focus on: lifting one foot; moving this foot forwards; placing this foot on the ground leading with the heel; shifting your weight to the front leg while raising the heel of your back leg and touching the ground with the toes of this foot.
  • Doing walking meditation regularly will help you follow this procedure more easily in your mind. Then you can shift your focus to other aspects: The quiet in and out of your breathing, the structure of the ground under your feet, noises around you. You’re not trying to classify any of these things, though; you’re simply taking everything in. ​
  • Do this exercise for 10 minutes a day.
“I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. ​”
Søren Kierkegaard

Book tips on how to walk yourself happy

Annabel Streets, “52 ways to walk. The Surprising Science of Walking for Wellness and Joy, One Week at a Time.”

Shane O'Mara, “In Praise of Walking. The new science of how we walk and why it's good for us”

Weiter gehen. Eine Anleitung.» Insel Verlag.