A Medicine Walk is different from an ordinary walk. It is done alone, in silence, and in solitary connection with the natural world. The intention of the walk is to see, hear, smell, observe, and sense as much as possible. It is a traditional part of the preparation for a wilderness fast and it has become a lifetime spiritual practice for me.
In this year when threats to our precious earth loom large I have begun the practice of taking a weekly Medicine Walk. It is a tangible way for me to communicate love and appreciation directly to the wild ones—from trees to birds. These walks on the wild side fill my heart and soul with calm and peace. It is, perhaps, one of my most powerful forms of activism.
Beginning in the darkness of winter, I took my first medicine walk shortly after the winter solstice. Each of the five weeks since then I have bundled up and ventured out to immerse myself in Nature for a few hours—sometimes on a local beach, sometimes in the surrounding forest.
Carrying a small backpack with my ten essentials, a thermos of tea, a little notebook, and a lifetime of love for the earth, I head out on my excursion. Sometimes important insights come into my thoughts, “Wow, it is hard to quiet my mind. Just observe and appreciate. Don’t plan!” And then I return my meditative focus to observation of all around me.
Other times important memories rise up to inform some deeper issue churning inside me. That is where the little notebook and time sitting can be important. Twice already I have surprised myself with an important memory or insight when I pause to write.
Always I return home with what Christina calls “the Medicine Walk aura”. I feel calm. The “to do” lists can wait. My attention span feels increased and I feel hopeful about life in general. From this place I am better able to be a good citizen, community and family member.
Activism takes many forms. It is not just protests on the streets or letter writing or preparing for public hearings—though those things are important. It is also taking the time to engage in our own spiritual practices so that we bring a deeper, wiser, more unshakeable presence to our engagement with the secular world.