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walking path in trees, walking meditation

"We all want quiet. We all want beauty ... We all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently." ~ Octavia Hill

Be radically present to the season of your soul and the changing seasons of the year by taking a nature mediation walk. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings, noticing that God is present in every step.

three different views of walking in the woods

Prepare For Your Walk

Read the short, simple instructions before you begin walking. Feel free to print them out to carry with you, or have them stored on your smartphone for quick reference.

Consider turning off your device while you walk, and only turn it on if needed. Creating as much of a tech-free, uninterrupted space is best.

You can walk anywhere you feel comfortable. Consider a new trail!

How long do you have to walk? The longer you have the more you’ll be able to enjoy these guided reflections. Aim for at least thirty minutes… but an hour is ideal. You can also extend this into a half or full-day hiking or walking experience.

Are you walking on your own, or with a family member and friend? Why not invite others from your faith community to “join you”, even at a distance.
Determine if you want to walk at the same time…on a Sunday morning, a weekday evening, a Saturday afternoon, etc.

Pack accordingly. Don’t forget your water!

Consider which Indigenous land your walk is located on. Begin by honoring and acknowledging with respect. Not sure? Check out: https://native-land.ca

rock and flowers in a wooded glade


Nature Walk Meditation Instructions

You can do this walk during any season, and the following is an example of how to pay attention in the season of spring. If you're walking in the summer, fall, or winter, you may want to compose your own list of things to look for before heading out. 

1. Begin by slowly reading the verse from Isaiah below a few times. Consider what words or images stand out for you.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12

2. Start walking. As you walk, see if you can be present and really notice the vitality, vibrancy, and fecundity of nature around you. Don’t rush through.

3. Pay particular attention to these items. Really take your time with each element on the list.

  • The smell of dirt. What words would you use to describe it?
  • The bird’s singing. Do you know the difference between a robin and a bluejay? What do you think they are saying?
  • The remains of winter. Is there snow and ice? Salt stains on the pavement? Can you say a proper thanks and goodbye to winter?
  • The heat of the sun. Even if it’s cold out, can you notice the quality of heat and light from the sun at this time of year? Let it sink into your bones.
  • Rushing/moving water. Is there a lake or stream or creek that is flowing? What does it sound like? Take some time to really listen. How does it make you feel?
  • Color. Can you notice any burst of color with flowers or the greening of leaves? Notice the contrast between the last few months of winter, and also imagine what is to come.
  • Squirrels and rabbits and other animals. Have you seen any? Are they a bit “friskier” than normal?!
  • Flowers. Are there any early-spring flowers popping? If you can find some, get real close…lower yourself to the ground and see them at eye-level. Do they have a smell?
  • Buds on bushes & trees. Notice how some trees have buds and some trees don’t. How are the buds different from bush to bush and tree to tree. Take time to reflect on what’s going on inside those buds.

4. During your walk, collect 3 stones or rocks, any size will do. When you return home, take some time to sit with those 3 stones. If can't find a stone, find a few fallen sticks on the ground.

Each stone/stick will represent something you experienced on your walk that brought you the most hope, joy, awe, and delight, particularly how you were inspired to "shout with joy and clap your hands"!

Place them by a candle, or put them in a place where you’ll be reminded of the simple gifts and the hope of this season.

Finally, take some time to consider what season your soul is in right now, and what might God want to show you about that from your walk.

BONUS

Now, once you’ve done this in the daylight, take time to do this by the night-light. Notice how sounds change in the evening, how your eyes adjust and see things in a fresh way, how the temperature is different, and how your sense of smell may be heightened. Be aware of any dangerous obstacles/hazards you might run into. Take time to notice the moon, and the "season-cycle it is in"!

AFTER YOUR WALK

At the end of your walk, grab a drink of something refreshing and find a place to get comfortable to reflect on your experience. Here are some practices that could guide your reflections.

  1. Jot down your thoughts, and answer some of the “Post-Walking Reflection Questions” to continue processing your experience.
  2. Draw a picture, or write a poem, prayer, or a song that captures your walk with God.
  3. Find a song and play it as a way to end your nature walking meditation experience.
  4. If you walked with someone, take time to share your observations together.

Post-Walking Reflection Questions

  • What was one gift I received on my walk?
  • What is one thing I learned and/or observed about myself while I walked?
  • What insight (regardless of how big or small) about my life, did I receive?
  • What is something I experienced through my senses that struck me with a sense of awe?
  • Is there anything about God, and the transcendent nature of life, that was brought to my mind and heart on the walk?
  • What is one thing I am grateful for? How can I express my gratitude in this moment?
  • What has this walk piqued my curiosity about? What is one thing I want to “look into” when I finish this walking reflection (ie. bird song, watershed, urban parks, etc.)?
  • Am I being prompted to make a change in my life as a result of what has emerged from this walking experience?
  • What is one thing I want to pay attention to in my next walk?
  • As I reflect on all these questions (or the thoughts and feelings I had on my walk), what is the one thing I’m being invited to hold onto?

 

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