The Secret of How Walking Could Save Your Soul
About 7 minutes to read
Would you believe me if I told you that going for a walk could save your soul? Nah you think, this woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Well that’s where you may be mistaken and I feel compelled to share my secret with you. I promised myself that I would never tell another person to do this but as I know a life-changing secret, how can I remain silent?
A Personal Story
In 2014, my life was in a mess and was I suicidal. I am not the type who willingly shares her burdens with others and I was living in silent turmoil and despair. It wasn’t until I decided enough was enough and I became enraged by my situation that I was finally able to break free and reconnect with myself.
I felt shredded mentally, emotionally and within my soul and I never knew if I would ever heal or feel remotely whole again. In the many months that I sat drooling on myself on my sofa, I felt a desperate need to break free to run away. However, where do you run when you know you will take your miserable self with you? The furthest I could manage was to my local forest. With each step I took through those woods, I felt a calling in my soul, walk, walk, walk.
Where would I go, I wondered. I am not the super active type; I don’t like to inconvenience myself with blood, sweat, or tears, so honestly why would I do this to myself? In my broken state, I lacked clarity. I did not know where to turn, what direction to follow. I was floundering like a fart in the wind, without purpose, without value. A soul whisper led me to Canada to visit my niece. It whispered, while you are there you discover what’s next.
For two weeks, everywhere we went, I wanted to walk. Walk, walk, walk my soul whispered. My resistance was strong, why walk when you can drive, why drive when you can fly. I met a man for Reiki healing, he told me some powerful truths, and made incredible predictions.
“You are embarking on a journey,” he said. “It’s part of your lifelong journey; it is part of your new way to being.”
“OK,” I thought, “I am flying home in two days, perhaps this is the journey.”
Little did I know! Walk, Walk, Walk my soul dictated. On route to the airport, I suddenly declared to my niece, “Bianca, I think I’m going to walk the Camino!”
“What the fuck?!” my monkey mind screamed. W H A T-T H E-A C T U A L-F U C K?
The Madness Continues
There are some moments in life where our insane thoughts and our souls whisper cohort to conspire against us. When the idea seems so bizarre it has to be insanity. When these moments of insanity pop up, I generally happily ignore them. I knew there was no way in hell that was meant for me, what was I thinking!
Three days later in the Italian Alps I found myself bursting out in frustration to my partner, “If I can’t climb this fucking hill, how the fuck am I going to climb the Pyrenees and walk the Camino?”
Since leaving Canada to that moment in the Alps I hadn’t given my insane declaration one thought or mentioned it to another person. Yet there I was suddenly blurting this out, most likely hoping she would tell me to stop being stupid. Walk the Camino what lunacy!
And yet that is not how she responded.
Angela, whatever you set your mind to do, you can do!
Thus it was, less than thirty days later I was crossing the Pyrenees in France to walk across Spain and save my soul.
Why Going for a Walk Could Save Your Soul
Sometimes when we experience the propensity to leave, we often wish to discover what it is we are fleeing. Where is the dissatisfaction, the unhappiness? Perhaps the question is not to ask what we are running from, but what is calling us.
When we are in misery, we understand that misery all too well. Often a solution presents itself on the horizon that seems far out of our comfort zone and our fear is too great to go in that direction.
However it is often the most unlikely scenario that is our saving grace and which creates the most growth in our lives.
5 Soul Saving Benefits of Walking
It is very important to note that walking for any period does cause pain in the body and if we attach to that pain, can cause great suffering. Everything you are about to read is not without great physical discomfort or pain. Yet we continue.
1. Personal Meditation
The process of walking, especially for long distances, is high meditative. A routine action, with the cadence of a drumbeat forms that personal rhythmic meditation. The mindset with which you walk will also affect the quality of your meditative state. If your thoughts are highly agitated, it is unlikely that you will experience great inner peace or joy. If you thoughts are ones of gratitude, the time can fly by.
2. Connect to Nature
As you walk, you have the joy of reconnecting to nature. You see birds flying to and fro and here them sing as the go. The wind soothes your sun kissed face, and often the rain cools your aching bones. There will be complaining about and rejoicing with the weather but with each step, a deep sense of unity develops between you and nature. You comprehend the meaninglessness of all the stresses of daily life. An intrinsic understanding of your tiny place in the grandeur of the universe occurs and somehow that makes perfect sense. The communion between you and Mother Nature fills your heart with joy because you understand there is no separation, all is one, and one is you.
3. Reawakens the Senses
You feel alive. Like never before, wonderfully, completely alive. Yours senses have awakened you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste so much more than ever before. The world appears wondrously fresh and beautiful to you. You have heightened emotional and spiritual senses and you feel greater empathy and compassion for yourself and others while your intuition is so accurate it may scare you. God is sensed in everything and you know this to be truth.
4. Journey of Healing
With each step you take not only do you move forward you also move inward. Walking, if done in relative silence without many external distractions allows you the wonderful opportunity for self-discovery and inner connection.
Many emotions are walked out of the body through the feet. Our feet are the epicentres of our nerve endings as taught in reflexology and when we experience pain in the feet, it can be indicative of pain in a different part of the body. Through the meditative process of walking, emotions will rise to the surface, which we can then address. We can heal many parts of our live when we journey into our hearts desire and connect deeply with our values. As we walk we can also process much forgiveness for ourselves and others.
5. Inner Connection and Discovery
Walking is not about reaching a destination it is about connecting to the core of who we are. Sometimes what we are looking for is not the same as what we will find. Many times that which we find is more glorious than we can imagine. If you embark on a journey of inner discovery you won’t be disappointed as your beautiful soul longs for that connection. If you are lost within your own life and not sure who or where you are, go within, your soul is waiting for you.
It is unlikely that walking to your local bakery ten minutes each day would bring about these profound, soul saving benefits. The walking we do in our daily lives is often mindless and perfunctory. The walking I am talking about here is walking with intent and purpose, with the desire to shift or change something in your life. Not everyone has extended periods of time or money that would allow them to go on an extended walk such as a pilgrimage, however you can build up the practice of mindful walking even for short periods each day.
Daily Mindful Walking
- Set aside the time for yourself. Make this time your priority.
- Leave behind your electronic devices; they will survive quite well without you for a while.
- Don’t go walking with a gaggle of geese. This is not the time to take all your super chatty friends with you. You want some alone time.
- Try to walk in nature if possible. If there is no river, forest or beach near you find a nice public park.
- Choose to be mindful as you walk. Pay attention to your mind, body, spirit, nature and your environment. If you have problems currently, set them aside and walk in a meditative state.
- At least once a week take the time to go for a longer walk with yourself.
The Journey of the Soul Never Ends
In our lives, we experience breakthroughs often after breakdowns. We have those monumental mountain top experiences of explosive growth and feel on top of the world. I often see people become stuck in those moments as if they have arrived. The good news is this – the journey never ends. We never arrive! We are always growing.
My Continued Story
I listened to the calling of my soul and I walked the Camino de Santiago. It was the most profound, life altering experience of my life. However, it wasn’t a static experience for a period somewhere in Spain in 2014. I continue to walk the Camino each day in my life. I continue to know my soul and live my soul.
You can learn more about my personal journey in my book Letters from The Way: A Story of Self-Discovery on the Camino
Letters from The Way – Reading by Angela Barnard (Author) from Angela Barnard on Vimeo.
Great tips, Angela!
Thanks for sharing.