Walking as Spiritual Exercise

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person in black coat walking on sidewalk during daytime

Walking can be a profound way of spending time intentionally with God, of slowing down, of putting down some of life’s daily pressures and reflecting more on the Divine. Advice on this subject is plentiful but the following could be one way of experiencing this practice, which begins with being fully present when you walk:

  1. Choose a route to take and note the amount of time you have available. The route can be anywhere, urban or rural, or anything in between (a part in a city centre and so on).
  2. Intentionally commit this time to God and try to prepare yourself by consciously deciding to let go of the many things buzzing round your head.
  3. Start walking and resolve to focus only on the walk, and on your body doing that walk. Try not to focus on the worrying or demanding thoughts that pop into your mind.
  4. Be aware: of your breathing, of the way your body moves, of the feel of the pavement or ground beneath your feet.
  5. Broaden that awareness: notice the sights, sounds, smells around you.
  6. At the end of your walk-time, pause for a moment – give thanks, notice what the experience has been like for you and commit that into God’s hands.

This is simply an initial exercise. If you’d like to know more a very helpful, short, book on this topic is “Every Step a Prayer” by Thomas R Hawkins, which is full of practical suggestions on making the most of this fundamental human activity as a way of spiritual discovery. You might also find “God Walk: Moving at the Speed of Your Soul” by Mark Buchanan with its emphasis on walks as different kinds of spiritual practice – walking as prayer, as pilgrimage, as friendship and so on – very useful.

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