Friday, March 27, 2009
Consider Taking a Walk with God
by Mary Erickson
Daily walking became a spiritual practice for me 24 years ago as I began dealing with the realities of a broken marriage and two very small daughters to care for while working more than a full-time job. My walking habit started with an early morning escape into the dark and has continued to sustain me throughout the ups and downs of my life.
Doctors and the media tout the physical benefits of walking but seldom talk about what it does for your mind and your soul. I have found that I can literally walk wherever I am and almost immediately immerse myself in a more contemplative state. Often I find myself feeling like I am meditating in the midst of an urban setting all the while enjoying the fresh air and sounds of life all around me. The simple cadence of solitary walking allows one to transcend the moment and become one with the natural environment.
Being outside throughout the year (yes, even in the rain and snow) gives one a unique perspective on the seasons and the cycle of life. Without my morning walk, I wouldn’t have the chance to really notice the flight of the geese overhead or the rustle of an opossum as I startle it during one of its forages in a wooded area near my home. The four seasons encourage daily recognition of our oneness with all forms of nature while bombarding our senses with the wonderful feel of rain on our cheeks or the warmth of sun on our backs.
If I didn’t walk, I would miss all the subtle shades of green that are presented in grass, leaves and flower stems. The crocus and daffodils remind me that, in spite of a very cold and snowy winter, there is always hope for a warmer, sunnier spring; and that it is just around the corner! As fall marches on I delight in the rustling of leaves and enjoy the gift of watching my beloved Scottish terrier, Lily, jump and romp as though she has discovered a new, magical toy.
Walking is much more than mere exercise; it is an experience that encourages clarity of mind, body and spirit. As a dear friend who walks about ten miles daily likes to remind me, “Walking is good for your head!” I find that I can leave the house feeling stressed, rushed and worried and, within about ten minutes, those worries and tensions have drifted away and a sense of deeper relaxation has come over me. I find the shift in my mental attitude helps me recognize that I am a better person because of my daily walk.
So why not give it a try? It takes about three weeks of daily walking to get hooked in spite of initially some sore feet and shin splints. It is well worth the investment of time and a good pair of walking shoes.