When was the last time you went on a walk? Not to get anywhere in particular, just to walk. Think about that day. Was it sunny outside? Were you listening to music? Did you need a coat? Were you with anyone? Were there cars or buildings or homes nearby? Whenever you go walking, good things happen. You feel more connected to yourself and you gain a fresh perspective on the day. This article is about why you should go on a walk every day, no matter what. Developing this habit of walking every day will anchor you in connection with yourself and the Divine.
Benefits of Daily Walking
What “counts” as a daily walk? Ideally, it’s at least five minutes long and you’re not in a rush to get anywhere. The goal of this walk should be simply to walk (not get anywhere in particular), and it should be outside. You want your daily walk to be a sacred time for you. Sure, it might be easier to mark off your daily walk when you hike up five flights of stairs to work every morning, but does that leave you feeling rejuvenated? Are you being deliberate about each step you take? Do you feel like you can move as slowly as you’d like? These are questions to consider when you’re planning your daily walks.
Going on a daily walk has benefits for your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Among the physical benefits are improved circulation, strengthened bones and muscles, and better sleep. People who walk daily have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke. As for your mental health, daily walking leads to improved mood and lessened anxiety. A daily walk is a great place to sort out your thoughts and let your brain take a break. Daily walks also have spiritual benefits, such as a deeper connection with yourself and a stronger relationship with God. Getting outside can lead to dramatic improvements in your overall health.
There is something significant about taking a walk outside every day, rain or shine. A treadmill is good to get you moving, or maybe you have a huge office or workspace you can walk around, but these won’t bring the same spiritual benefits as a daily outdoor walk. As a spiritual being, you are meant to live at one with all other spiritual things, and this includes nature. In a previous article, we wrote:
“There’s a huge problem in how we’re living: we’re seeing nature as separate from ourselves. In reality, humans are part of the interconnected web of nature that makes up our world. Somewhere along the way, we tore ourselves from the nature that sustained us for so long. And living distinct from nature is a fairly recent development in the grand scheme of human existence—a small fraction of hundreds of thousands of years.
“One study found that the average American spends over 90 percent of their time indoors. That’s 22 hours a day! Our modern lives don’t give us many reasons to interact with the outdoors—working in office buildings instead of hunting and gathering, driving in air-conditioned cars instead of walking. But that’s not how our bodies and spirits are meant to live…We are meant to be in communion, or at one, with nature. Although we don’t live immersed in nature the way that humans have in the past, the good news is that we can mend the disconnection between ourselves and nature. And when we do, our lives will change.”
Nature has such a powerful effect on you because it’s part of you. When you reconnect with nature, you’re reconnecting with yourself, too. And because everything in the world has one divine creator, getting outside is a sure way to commune with God, too. This is why nature is such a good way to get a spiritual boost.
What to Do While Walking
So, what should you do while you’re walking? Your daily walk should be personalised to you. Try not to listen to a podcast or talk on the phone, and if you do listen to music, choose tracks that focus you on your inner self. Moving your body tends to move your mind and spirit, too. Walking might be just the thing to set your spiritual gears in motion.
A daily walk is a great time for spirit rituals. Think about your current spiritual wellness practice. Are there certain habits you’re struggling with or practices you keep forgetting about? Maybe you could incorporate them into your daily walk somehow. For example, here are five practices you can try on your daily walk:
1. Prayer. Many people are taught that prayer should be on your knees. This is to represent humility before God. While praying on your knees can be especially useful, talking to God while you’re walking has unique benefits, too. You might find it easier to pray when your body is moving. The downside is that you probably will only be able to pray in your mind and heart, and not out loud.
2. Look up. When you’re walking from place to place, it’s natural to look down to make sure you won’t trip on anything. But you don’t need to look at your feet the whole time. Next time you go on a walk, notice where your eyes are. Look up at your surroundings – you don’t want to miss the beauty that’s right in front of you!
3. Mindfulness. Most of us will walk the same paths hundreds of times. You might start to feel like it’s repetitive, the same old thing every day. But mindfulness will make you realize that things around you are actually changing from day to day. The smell of flowers in the spring is different from the smell of snow in the winter. One day you may hear a motorcycle, the next a laughing child. Have you taken the time to notice individual leaves on that huge tree above your head? Your daily walk can become exciting when you open yourself up to mindfulness using all five senses.
4. Gratitude. Walking is a great way to extract yourself from your to-do list and focus on what really matters with gratitude. On your daily walk, you can practice gratitude for what’s in your immediate surroundings or for other blessings in your life. Try thinking of three things you’re grateful for while you’re walking. Ask yourself why these things matter so much to you, and use your walking time to really think the answers through in your head.
5. Breathwork. How often are you conscious of your breath? Once a day? Once a week? A daily walk can be a great way to weave breathwork into your everyday life. One practice is to breathe according to the steps you take: for example, breathe in for six steps, out for six steps. Breathwork will help you relax and bring your mind to the present moment.
Depending on how much time you spend walking, choose which spiritual practice(s) you’re going to do on your daily walk. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Spiritual Experiences While Walking
Going on a walk can be a spiritual experience. Read these two personal stories from the Spirituality Project about how walking brought people closer to God:
“One time I was walking by myself on my family's farm talking to God. I was probably about 13 at the time and there were a lot of changes happening in my life at the time. I was asking God about some things that were going on in my life and I felt like He asked me to ask Him how much He loved me. I thought it was kind of funny, but I asked Him. He told me He loves me so incredibly much, and I began to feel a warm love envelop me to the point it was so overwhelming and so pure that I began to cry. I truly felt loved by God in that moment.” -Josh, Redding, USA
“It was the summer of 2018 and the first time I left the country. I was studying abroad in England and felt a little confused and new to everything. I was wandering a lot and not knowing what my place was. In one of these moments of questioning why I was there and what my purpose in life was, I decided I needed to just walk it off. I left the city and walked into the countryside. I listened to music and it started to calm my soul. I remember finding a tree, standing under it, and looking up. I saw the way the sunlight shone through the leaves of the tree and the gentle wind made the leaves dance. The patterns of light shifted along the leaves and along the floor and along the water on the river. This dancing light with all the green and the beautiful river and the bright, warm sunshine—this combination of natural beauty and musical beauty from my headphones provided a moment of connection. I just had this heavy sense that God was aware of me. I didn’t receive any answers in that moment, just a feeling. An “I’m here. I love you.” I felt total awe. I felt awe at God’s love and at how breathtakingly beautiful he made the details of our world. It was a moment when time seemed to freeze. Tears came down my face and it was this moment of deep connection.” -John, Fountain Valley, USA
Some days, all you want to do is stay curled up inside. But getting outside, even for a short walk, will have a positive impact on your day and your life. Buy a rain jacket or some snow boots; decide that you’re going on that daily walk no matter what. And hold yourself accountable. Even after a few days, you’ll start to experience the benefits. Most importantly, a daily walk is a time for you to slow down, unplug, and be with your higher power.
Have a spiritual experience you want to share? Follow this link to contribute to a worldwide collection of spiritual stories.