The Mindful Walking and Journaling Group
A Kick-Start Case Study

Kick-Start was a programme BAB funded from 2016 – 2019 that allowed organisations, groups and individuals to seek grants of up to £2,000 to set up and run activities aimed at reducing isolation and loneliness in older people. We had a real mixture of groups come through the process, from choirs and Tai-Chi sessions to animation courses.

The ‘Mindful Walking and Journaling’ group is a Kick-Start project that aims to improve older people’s wellbeing through guided ‘presencing’ in Leigh Woods and other inspiring places. Participants are encouraged to practice the skills of observation and live fully in the moment, enjoying using all their senses and rekindling their wonder in nature. Each walk starts with a period of meditation which intensifies the sense of connection.

Anita Pepper, who leads the groups with Ben Glatt (a community artist), describes a session. “We meet, have a short, mindful walk around and then we will get out some art materials and give people a journal to write a poem or draw a picture … Some of the things people have created have been absolutely beautiful.”

For Anita it has been fulfilling to see people enjoying the sessions, especially those who haven’t done much art before.“I like how in the natural space people who were perhaps shy at the start of the sessions start to open up and talk and just soak up the atmosphere from the forest.” Additionally, Anita enjoys seeing people form friendships within the group.

There were some initial challenges in setting up the group. For instance, at the first session the group were too close to the main footpath going through Leigh Woods and had people on bikes whizzing past and dogs barking. “Not very mindful!” Anita laughed. At future sessions, they went further into the forest areas.

Anita feels that she has learnt from the experience as she and Ben  help balance each other out. Anita was trained as a teacher and so was used to children but managing adults was a new experience and she felt she benefited from Ben’s knowledge. One of the things she has learnt about running the sessions has been to be more flexible about how to pace the sessions.

They always get good feedback from participants, some who haven’t wanted the sessions to end! Anita has learnt to set a ‘formal’ end time to the session but encourages people to stay in the woods for as long as they want to.

If you’d like a join a mindful walk, please email: anitapepper68@gmail.com


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