The combination of body movement and mindfulness … is one I can get excited over. I have always been a big walker and when I practiced solitude and silence for years, walking became an essential part of integrating insights into my body and transmuting old thought energy that no longer fit my new emerging self. Motion was a necessary part of my shedding and opening. This insight brought me to reading what I could about the spiritual practice of walking.
The Australian Aborigine are known to take Walkabouts which are ritualized walks within the desert guided by one’s intuition and the voices of one’s ancestors. These walks are a form of spiritual initiation as each step is symbolic of external as well as internal movement. This recognition has allowed me to walk out of my house and realize I am literally walking from an old level of consciousness into a new level of consciousness.
Labyrinth walking has resurged in the past twenty or so years. Walking the labyrinth is symbolic of a spiritual pilgrimage and walking one’s way into the center of God.
Throughout the world there are many different pilgrimages that religious people take as part of their spiritual practice. It is an obligation for a Muslim to travel to Mecca as a demonstration of faith. For over 1,000 years individuals have walked The Camino in Spain, to end up at the doorstep of the Cathedral de Santiago to seek penance, enlightenment or arrive at the burial place of St. James. Originally the trek was from one’s doorstep to the Cathedral. Since this pilgrimage has become so popular there is now a route that is roughly 800 kilometers or 500 miles.
In 2004 I traveled the country and Canada by car as The Forgiveness Tour. On my kick off, a friend gave me a book about the Peace pilgrim. I was taken by this woman’s commitment to peace. She chose to walk the United States to talk peace from community to community until peace would be achieved.
My favorite poet Mary Oliver walks daily as part of her writing process. Julia Cameron recommends walking to increase creativity.
Every aspect of life is and can be sacred. Intention is what ordains something as ordinary or sacred. I do walking meditations several different ways.
- Walking Mindfulness. Walking meditation as a form of mindfulness is walking without distraction and being awake to the sensory impact of the walk. I feel the weather upon my skin. I look at what I am walking by. I feel the ground beneath my feet. I listen to the sounds of the cars, trees in the wind, birds chirping, all of it. I am a walking sponge receiving and open to the stimulus around me. The benefit to this form of meditation is the practice of opening, receiving, allowing. There is no fixing or changing energy, it is awareness of the well-being nature of life.
- Walking Contemplation. The difference between meditation and contemplation is meditation is about “isness” without agenda. Contemplation is taking in an idea, thought or energy allowing it to marinate within. I may walk out my front door with the idea of loving something that appears unlovable to me. While walking I feel into the love and I wrestle with a possibility I’ve yet to realize. Something happens in the fresh air with the movement.
- Walking Affirmations. I love walking affirmations or prayers. Often times in spiritual practice an idea comes forward within me. Today, for example, I was reminded of the many clients I am currently working with who believe in neglect and abandonment more strongly then they believe in God. On my walk, then, I see each one of my clients and affirm within my being “I do not neglect or abandon my True Self. I show up for myself fully.” I do this for myself as well. I am currently looking for my right place to live. As I walk I affirm to myself “my right home is finding me and making itself visible. Thank you God.” With each step I take this Truth into my body and as I speak it to myself it takes form within my cells and a peace comes upon me.
Walking moves energy. As with anything, I can be unconscious and check out or I can become aware of the power of this activity and utilize it to love my Self more completely.