1. Create an intention for the walk. The various intentions I created for my walks are similar to these:
· To feel content and at peace at the completion of the walk
· To feel more deeply connected to myself and to my Creator
· To experience a peaceful flow of energy during the walk
· To embrace and honor nature and her healing qualities
· To softly increase my physical endurance
2. Stand quietly in Wu Chi (emptiness) at the beginning of the walk. We stand in this way until we feel grounded and connected to self and nature. To do this, we stand with our feet about shoulder width apart, weight evenly distributed between each foot, knees slightly bent, back straight, hips tucked in and neck aligned with the spine. Our chin is slightly tucked so that our neck is straight. Our eyes have a soft focus. We breathe evenly and deeply, visualizing the breath as a silken stream. We allow ourself to feel rooted into the ground, perhaps by visualizing roots growing from the bottom of our feet into the Earth. We give thanks to the strength of the Earth and to the strength within. As we stand, we check in with ourself, observe and note any aches and pains, and observe and make note of our general state of well-being. Once noted, we relax and enjoy simply being present with Creation and ourself. When we are content in the present moment, with mind quiet and spirit grateful for our connection to the universal energy flow that exists between all things, we begin to walk and fully enjoy our opportunity for mutual sharing.
3. We use the act of walking for focus. We notice our footsteps as they touch the Earth and we allow ourselves to become energetically aware of each step, the feeling of each step, how our body moves through each step. The noticing allows our mind to stay in the now and keeps it from reliving the past or pre-living the future. There is no problem-solving during this walk. We notice only our steps, our body while taking each step and the comfort and quality of our breathing. The secondary benefit of our focus is an increasingly more positive relationship with our body and its function.
4. We use the walk to connect with nature. There is great solace in the healing power of nature. Make friends with her. Notice new growth. Notice the sounds and smells and the life-force of nature. Notice the blossoms, the foliage, and the animals that come into view. I made friends with a particularly large old pine tree. I stopped by to physically touch her and speak to her each time I walked. Her presence was particularly healing for me and I hope my appreciation helped her quality of life as much as she helped mine. I asked her if I could have a small piece of her magnificent old bark to carry with me. I placed it in my car to remind me of what is possible and to encourage my inward focus and connection to all that is.
5. We walk until we are at the end of our walk and then return to our starting location.
6. At the end of the walk we stand in Wu-Chi. We check in to see if we have achieved our intention. The check-in is not a pass or fail, but a noticing that provides insight. Has the walk helped to increase our feeling of well-being and our sense of connection to self and life? How do we feel physically in comparison to how we felt at the start of the walk? Each of us has the opportunity to glimpse the depth of loving insight and experience available through a regular practice of meditation. Any restorative, awakening practice is an ongoing process. Our awareness increases a step at a time over a period of time, and continues as long as we practice. Each day a new pathway of understanding opens up to us, and each of us has our own special window of experience that is important for our growth.
As I Walk, I Am
Earth is my home.
Her foliage brings softness and beauty, and provides the breath of life.
Everything about her brings attention to divine beginning.
My footsteps touch Her peacefully, and I know.
My eyes gently focus on everything and nothing, and I see.
My mind is quiet and free of worry, and it refreshes me.
My breath flows softly in and out, and my senses are heightened.
My body is alive, as I fully experience my wholeness and the miraculous nature of each footstep.
My awareness is expanded, and I acknowledge and honor the Presence within me.
My being merges with all that there is, and I am at home.
My totality celebrates life.
Creation is part of me and I am part of Her.
As I walk, I am.
(Walking Meditation Janet Style and As I Walk I Am are excerpts from Pathways to Wholeness)
One thing is for certain – connecting with nature on a walk is a wonderfully pleasant experience.
I grew up in Pennsylvania and I've been residing in California for the past 30+ years. To this day, I can still feel the crisp autumn leaves beneath my feet, hear the crunching sound of the snow as I walked to school, and smell the freshness in the air after a thunderstorm. 🙂
Beautiful words Melanie. I know exactly what you mean. I felt the same way when I lived in California … eventhough I loved it there. I had the hum of the east coast climate and environment in my blood! I grew up in the mid Ohio Valley.