Contemplative Walking is something anyone of us can start at any time to begin a practice that is so simple, yet so profoundly powerful that the elixir of these two friends, along with the simplicity and the wholeheartedness it brings, can allow you to the space for necessary healing and personal growth.
Walk into the world every morning with intention, silence, gratitude and a deep sense of mindfulness. Allow the thoughts you have to ebb and flow as you start to learn about how to incorporate contemplative walking into your daily practice. Out goes the autopilot.
Contemplative Walking is about not knowing just flowing, noticing everything as it is without deep thoughts or questioning. This in turn allows answers to flow to us as if they are spoken through some kind of ancient and silent language. It is one of the rare pleasures of life today that still costs nothing!
How you begin is by re-look at everything you see. Use short words like, tree, bird, water or warmth to describe the energy and delight your senses are taking in.
Flow. Allow nature to communicate with you in a holy and personal communion. Holy means sacred. Everything is sacred and holy, including you. Nature will help you in its depth and simplicity to be reminded of this.
Everything you learned in childhood should be re-experienced whenever we get a chance to do so.
“Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Horse, tree and bird are all names that we seldom ever contemplate anymore. A purposeful practice of noticing these things again will both allow you to feel connected and sense and share the gratitude that all things have for their lives.
Much of science argues today that walking is still the best all round exercise that their is. The pace, the balance and the natural brilliance of walking itself cannot be overrated.
How to start Contemplative Walking
- Set your intentions to take this walking time to nourish your soul.
- Breathe deeply and offer a small prayer of acknowledgement.
- Listen to your breath and focus on all the sensations of your body, head to toe.
- Next, take in the other senses by noticing everything intently. Just notice as if you are doing so for the first time.
- Use single, small, simple words for all that you experience rather than making constructs and sentences. Naming as if for the first time a bird, apple and tree.
- End in gratitude. I always end my walks with hands together as a mudra and a small bow.
Contemplative Walking, especially in nature, brings you closer to nature and your body, the internal is drawn to the external and vice versa. Walking in a forest for example has been called forest bathing or shinrin-yoku and perfectly describes what a walk should entail for the soul.
“Remember your connection with the cosmos. Remember your connection with the infinity and that remembrance will give you the freedom.”
― Amit Ray, Enlightenment Step by Step
Wear comfortable clothing and open shoes, or no shoes. Become aware of the heal to toe and knee to foot and hip rhythms as you slowly walk feeling and hearing the ground beneath your feet and staying conscious of your balanced breathing. Turn the volume down on your internal mind-chatter and when you attention drifts, bring it back by naming what you see, and then contemplating that “tree” or “wave” or “butterfly” for a brief moment, noticing in your own head space how everything is as connected as you are to the ground. Lift your arms whenever you remember to and take deep breaths. A gentle greeting, bow or hand wave to people, objects and animals can make you even more connected if you are willing to be a little out there with your thinking.
Breathe life in as you walk and consider things as if you were doing so for the first time. There is nothing you need to know when Contemplative Walking. It is a very freeing exercise that makes one a mystic, as if exploring life, the senses and the self for the first time. Notice and feel each breath. This will allow you mind chatter to lessen as you become the observer. What you will observe with little doubt at all are three things. In stillness and silence the world is good, God is for you and you’re central to this grand design – wholeheartedly! Many blessings and Segen.
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