For the past few years I have had trouble getting (and staying) in shape. Okay, I admit it, the fight has been longer than just a few years. When I was a kid, instead of playing nice with the girls, I fought with the boys in the neighborhood. I tried to join in on their fun and received new scars weekly at bloody soccer games. I was always last picked to play on the kickball team, and as a catcher for my fifth grade softball team, I hit the pitcher over the head with a fastball. Uncoordinated in team sports, I only managed to swing the pole, which was fun, but I hardly broke a sweat. After failures in group sports I thought about trying running, so a few years ago I tried training for a half marathon. I ended up limping home crying and thought I would never exercise again. (I couldn’t even MOVE after that, let alone exercise!)
Over the years, I have used walking as a way to get out of the house, to “warm up” to more vigorous exercise, and just to hang out with friends. This year walking has become so much more for me. Walking allows me to integrate mind, body and spirit in a way that I have not experienced before. Athletes speak of being “in the zone.” I see that I am also an athlete and that walking can be vigorous and can give my body the movement it craves. Walking has allowed me to regain fitness goals that I had given up on. I think I’ve finally found something that I can be good at and stick with for the long haul!
“Movement in the body brings movement in the mind. It is a natural alchemy. Many of us seek this type of movement in our lives, a fusion of being and doing.” – Carolyn Scott Kortge from her book, The Spirited Walker.
These days, our lives are at an incredibly hectic pace. We have so much on our plates that we fear that we will never finish it all, and we wonder when we will find time to do those things that bring us pleasure. Even when the world seems out of control, walking can restore our sense of inner peace. Time seems to expand, giving us the opportunity to slow down, relax, appreciate ourselves and our lives.
Even when we are just go for a walk, we are almost never only walking. We carry our mind with us when we walk, so we are generally absorbed in our own thoughts. I have come to see that the unique the work of walking has become drunk job. I’ve even dubbed some of my walks with particularly insightful friends “walk and talk,” where we process life together and use walking as a metaphor to move forward in life.
And then there is walking alone, which frees us up for an internal dialogue. I learned how to turn off my cell phone, take off my headphones and stop drowning in the natural world. When I allow myself to listen to my own thoughts and resolve any internal conflicts, I am at peace in the sanctuary of my mind. Moving meditation, or spiritual walking, is a wonderful way to connect with our own presence.
Above all, don’t lose the desire to walk. I have gone into my best thoughts and I do not know of any thought so overwhelming that one cannot get away from it. If one keeps walking, everything will be fine. “Soren Kierkegaard
Even if our work is wonderful, our family is healthy, and our future seems bright, we can lose touch with the deepest part of ourselves unless we slow down enough to breathe deeply, quiet our thoughts, and observe the natural world with a sense of conscience. wonder. Walking with awareness gives us the opportunity to connect with the nature that surrounds us and our “inner nature.” Then we will be able to attend to the trinity of which we are made: mind, body and spirit. By creating a balance between the three, we improve the quality of all areas of our life.
Use a long walk or walk to get home alone. If you don’t go in, you will go outside!
Very often we walk hurriedly, running from one place to another in a state of mindless detachment. Spiritual walking is a form of moving meditation. Choose a route that allows you to practice mindfulness by fully engaging your senses. Feel the hard pavement or soft grass under your feet, sip the scent of honeysuckle as you pass, and make a mental note of the flowers that are blooming. Notice the sensation of the wind against your face. The pace of the march helps us to quiet our minds and, from time to time, we can receive inspiration or better understand some problematic aspect of our lives.
Plan a walking retreat.
You can use walking as a kind of mini-retreat. I’m not talking about leaving for a week or even a weekend, unless you want to, of course. I suggest that you set aside a few hours, or even a full day, for an exploration on foot, away from the demands of work, home, and family.
First, pick a date on your calendar and mark it as your “withdrawal day.” You want this day to be yours, for your personal adventure on foot. Next, identify a place you want to explore on foot. If you like being in nature, call your local parks and recreation department for maps of your area. If you love looking at houses and gardens (one of my favorite types of walks), think of a neighborhood that you would like to see up close. You want to spend your time walking, not driving, so try to choose a place that is not too far from home. If you never have to get in your car, that’s even better.
My hour-long walk through the neighborhood ends on a long incline that leads to the street I live on. I hear my body tell me, “We can’t do this, we’ll never get home.” I hear my own inner demons loud and clear and then say goodbye to them using positive self-talk. As I approach the top of the hill, I tell how wonderful the hike was and how strong I am becoming. I’m glad it’s finished, but I’m already looking forward to the next outing!
I am thankful for my spiritual walk. For me, it is a new route to wellness, a fusion of muscle and mind. Infusing spirituality into my exercise routine has become a all right enter a God to walk!