An overview of the spiritual practice of Walking Meditation
"An Early Morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." ~ Henry David Thoreau
I love to walk and Pray. In fact, if I had to pick one spiritual practice that gives me the most joy, it would be walking meditation.
I’ve always loved the outdoors, especially hiking through the woods and up mountains. The intimacy of walking among the trees, birds, and along rivers and streams is a mystical experience.
The act of moving slowly through your environment allows you to catch the finer details of the world around you that you may have otherwise missed.
It allows us to be more fully present as we walk, slowly and intentionally. This isn’t about exercise, although that is a great side benefit, but it about noticing.
Noticing with gratitude, wonder, and love.
"My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing." ~ Aldous Huxley
Usually when I’m walking in a meditative manner I feel connected to everything around me. If it is in nature, I feel closer to the animals and trees and feel a kinship with them that may not have existed before.
How I pray and what I think or say really doesn’t matter. It can be as simple as “Thank you Lord” or just “Thank you”.
If I desire to be more intentional in my prayers, I may write down a scripture, or a meaningful prayer that I bring along with me. Usually just walking is enough.
Walking meditation can be done anywhere.
Yes, being outside in nature is my first choice but urban environments can be just as rewarding. New places, or sacred sites can especially invoke feelings of joy and gratitude as you wander and gaze at the unfamiliar surroundings.
Here’s some helpful ideas on the Spiritual Practice of Walking Meditation
- 1. Choose your location to walk and pray or meditate. Natural environments of great beauty are ideal, but even a less scenic area can help you appreciate the beauty that is all around you. City areas can give you an amazing feeling of connection to other people around you as you walk while praying or just being present to your surroundings. You can notice the joy, or pain, in others faces and say a silent prayer for them. This practice of compassion is a powerful way of reminding us that we are all connected in this life.
2. Write down a scripture or meaningful quote to say as a Mantra while you walk. I’ve used the Jesus Prayer at times or a short Celtic Prayer to inspire me as I walk.
3. Keep it simple. This is a simple practice as it can be anything you want it to be. Just walking and smiling is a fun way to practice walking meditation.
4. Prayer beads, or other tactile objects may be something you can add to your walk. Some may like to prayer the Rosary or just hold a sacred book or other object in your hand such as a walking stick or a healing crystal.
5. A walking meditation can be a very meaningful way to prayer for others. In fact, you can walk with another person or a large group to pray together. Many times people walk to together to pray for a specific place such as a neighborhood, hospital, or anywhere else that the people wish to bless. This form of meditative walking would more closely resemble "prayer walking" which I will describe at a later time.
6. Carry a journal or make sure to put to paper some of your reflections that are bound to arise as you are touched by the spirit. Ideas flow beautifully while walking, and I like to capture those thoughts right after my walk.
7. Carry your phone or a camera only if it doesn’t distract you too much. I carry my phone with me to take pictures and sometimes my heavier camera if I want to connect with the surrounding beauty. The practice of meditative photography is another way to connect with God and your surroundings. The bee buzzing on the sunflower or the deer that greets you on your path can be a wonderful memory that you may want to capture in a photo.
8. Don’t rush. Make sure you have given yourself plenty of time for your meditative walk so you aren’t preoccupied with what appointment you need to rush off to in fifteen minutes.
9. Go in any weather. Some of my most joyous walks have been in the snow and rain. Dress for the weather and expect to be surprised.
10. Give thanks at the end of your walking meditation for whatever blessings you receive.