In talking to people who engage in contemplative practices to support their prayer time, it quickly becomes apparent that different techniques suit different people and circumstances. And while techniques like Lectio Divina can help deepen our understanding of scripture, sometimes it’s freeing to be away from words and ideas to simply be with God.
If you are visiting Holy Island for a day trip, for a retreat in our Bothy or staying in one of the many other hospitable places on the island, why not turn a walk to explore the beautiful scenery into a spiritual practice with a walking meditation? You can find a number of suggested routes here. Even if you are not planning a visit to Holy Island, you can do this practice around your local neighbourhood, park or favourite country walk.
Walking meditation uses walking in an intentional way to connect with God through contemplation and an appreciation of your surroundings. It acknowledges that walking is an important part of our faith including the walking ministries of Jesus and Paul and the pilgrimages taken by many Christians past and present.
How to do the Practice?
Choose a walking route, 10-30 minutes is ideal. As this is an intentional practice, arrange to walk alone. If you would like to make this a daily practice, you may want to do this at a set time every day and consider a time and route where you are less likely to be disturbed by others. However do not be discouraged if you are interrupted, it too may be a source for reflection. Remember to follow appropriate guidance such as the Countryside Code and take sensible precautions in terms of safety, practical footwear and clothing etc. Being distracted by anxieties about such issues is not condusive to meditation!
Walk slowly and reflectively, be aware of God’s presence and pay attention to the people and things that you notice on your walk. Choose to turn the things you observe into an opportunity for prayer. You might want to give thanks for the beautiful flowers you see, the birdsong you hear or the talents that have created sculptures or buildings; you might want to ask for blessings on the people who live in all the houses that you pass and so on. Alternatively you may like to simply say a short prayer or recite a short verse in rhythm with your footsteps. You might want to alternate these practices on different days and note the differences.
As you enter your home and take off your coat, take time to reflect on what has been revealed to you today. Thank God that you are safely home.
What if I can’t walk?
If for any reason walking is not possible, you may like to consider doing a Body Prayer instead. There are plenty of suggestions with guidance on YouTube and these gentle exercises can be adapted to be done as seated indoor practices. Alternatively you may want to use a film of a guided walk; again the internet is a great source of inspiration and gives us the opportunity to go wherever we choose in the world from home!