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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Counting Sounds: A Mindful Walking Practice

The instructions for this mindfulness activity couldn’t be simpler: 

Go for a walk and mentally count or list all the different sounds that you hear.

It’s essential to turn off your electronics or leave them at home. And No Talking, although you can certainly smile and say hi to anyone you happen to pass.  
(I’m sure it comes from growing up in the country, but I always feel this sense of camaraderie, like in that Paul Simon song: “Say, ain’t we walking down the same street together on the very same day?”)

Also, if you’re doing this activity with a group or for a class, be sure to keep it noncompetitive: It could be interesting to discuss the different sounds people heard, but it doesn’t matter who tallied up the most sounds by the end of the walk. 

That said, you’ll probably be surprised how many sounds you do notice when you stop focusing on everything else.

For example, here are the sounds I heard on my walk this morning:

  • My footsteps 
    • on the pavement
    • on a gravel path
    • on dried leaves
    • on a wooden bridge
  • Two different types of birds, plus an owl
  • A jogger’s sneakers fwopfwopfwopfwop on the pavement
  • A buzzing chain saw
  • Cars whooshing past
  • The hood of my coat swinging against my hair
  • My sleeves swishing against the side of my coat
  • A dog and a man: “Yipyipyip!” “Relax, Gus.”

I’m sure you’ll find that focusing on sounds is a great way to stay in the moment. Counting Sounds is also a nice alternative to Rainbow Walk, especially when it might not look very colorful outside.

Image courtesy of tawatchai at


Related posts:

Rainbow Walk: A Mindfulness Activity to Move the Body and Rest the Mind 

Noticing the Five Senses: A Daily Mindfulness Log 

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