“The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert yourself by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.”
Adopting an outdoor walking practice has been a transformational experience for me.
Now, I’m not an avid walker and I go through spells of not walking at all. But when the wheels on my bus start falling off, I know what needs to be done to get back on track. It’s time to lace up my shoes and head outside to reconnect with Mother Earth, the universal energy that has the power to right all wrongs.
Headphones and tennis shoes walked me through a couple of years of dark nights of the soul when I was in my 30s. Diagnosed with a serious and sometimes debilitating illness, I began my lifelong quest to heal my body, a process I knew would have to start with my mind.
So I began immersing myself in the wisdom of Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and others, drowning out the voice of my demons with their words of wisdom, comfort and healing. Together in spirit, we walked and walked and walked around a beautiful little lake in Southern California because somehow, I knew if I changed my beliefs, my health would follow. And surely it has.
I’ve walked my way through many more shifts in consciousness since that time. Mostly, I chose walking alone, often listening on headphones to leading edge thinkers and chipping away at the remnants of my dysfunctional belief system.
Now when I walk, I prefer to walk in silence, sans headphones or companionship. As a result, I’ve developed a stronger connection with myself and my environment. Alone with my thoughts I have practiced waking up my deadened senses. I am able to tune into Mother Earth and fully hear the sounds of nature, fill my lungs with the smell of the earth and absorb the day on my skin while watching the seasons change. Often I take pictures of the beauty, of the tiny details in nature, noticing my world in a totally new way.
Walking practices have served me well along my journey. For much of my childhood, being alone outside was where I found peace. That experience that has carried over into adulthood, when for an extended period of time, walking outside was the only place I truly felt at ease.
Mother Earth has powerful energy and I firmly believe that through my walking practice I’ve been gifted with a chance to harness some of that for my own growth and healing. And without sounding dramatic, I share with you that my walking practice makes my heart swell with gratitude.
I’ve developed a heightened sensory acuity that helps me connect with my inner voice. I feel a stronger connection to my truth. I’ve peeled back disconnected layers to expose an authenticity I’ve been yearning for. And now, finally, I know where to find my balance in an increasingly noisy and disconnected world filled with distractions and chaos. I go outside and walk.
In serious need of an energy shift, I recently ventured out for a walk. It was a less than perfect weather day; foggy, gray, slightly windy and misting heavily. Mother Nature was bold, with energy that felt strong and playful and not to be dismissed.
My cheeks were cold and red and my nose was running. And I felt exhilarated!
When I’m outside walking I feel a sense of connection that sometimes is lacking in a world where it seems as though all of our connections are digital. It’s the real thing. And it helps me feel alive and connected to all that is. The stronger my commitment to my walking practice, the more my life seems to flow.
It’s waiting for me on the other side of my front door. And that’s where I’m headed right now.
(PS: Just returned home from walking where I was graced by a bald eagle flying just above the tree tops and right over my head – see what I mean?)