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I grew up in a small town near the beautiful Black Sea in Eastern Europe.
I had two best friends and the three of us shared lots of laughter and walks together. Back then, there were no buses, no car pickups or drop-offs, and nobody minded walking. It was the best time of the day! We walked under the stars holding hands with boys, talking, and stealing kisses in the dark. It did not matter what the season was—walking was the only way to get around in the world. Walking made it feel big, fun, and always friendly.
Walking was my medicine. Walking was a necessity. Walking was making friends, walking was caring and sharing. Naturally, I always walked. On my sad days and on my happy days. Somehow, while walking, everything seemed to fall into place—my breath, my heartbeat, my whole body.
I would get lost in the singing of the birds, the passing clouds, the flowers, the trees, and the mud on my shoes.
Sometimes there was no final destination or special purpose. It was just a walk around the neighborhood—smelling the roses, picking up random rocks, fresh air after the rain, and sucking the sweet, tart paste of dried rose hips through my lips while leaving the skin and the seeds out. It took some mastery to accomplish that!
Walking makes me fall in love with life over and over again. It never fails me.
It starts with this butterfly sensation in my belly—anticipation and longing. Years ago, I got acquainted with walking meditation through a book I was reading. It stirred my curiosity. I started my walks with an intention to drop into my body more. I started exploring the sensation of my feet touching the ground, noticing how my body moved through space, and delving into the experience connected to that.
After listening to Joseph Goldstein‘s “Abiding in Mindfulness” audio learning course, I explored a little deeper into my love for walking. I realized why walking had been such an integral part of my being: it has the ability to change, literally and symbolically, the form of my thoughts, feelings, sensations, and dissolve them into space.
In these moments, I am no longer my body. There is a point where the body and its surroundings melt into each other, like lovers.
I can still clearly remember one of those misty, early morning walks in Provincetown, Cape Cod.
I remember listening to the stillness of the soft, pastel-colored dawn as I reached a small beach. The skies were covered with cobwebby blankets of clouds—the reflections gently rocking on the clear ocean waves. Then, right there on the horizon, a beam greeted me. Quickly after, the sun peaked in all its glory and majesty. It overwhelmed my whole being. My breath was suspended on this thin, golden, string above my head.
The warm sunlight slipped up my fingers, through my arms, and streamed into my heart. Did the sun walk into my heart, or did my heart walk into the sun?
The elation and the intense feeling of oneness stayed with me for a long time. It is alive in me, still.
Walking is medicine. Walking is an adventure into the soul. It presents the opportunity to connect, to explore, and to appreciate.
When we walk we naturally distance ourselves from some things and get closer to others. We get closer to nature. We leave behind worries. We let ourselves be transformed. We deepen our connection to the Self. We let the sense of wonder ignite us. We let our souls be nurtured.
So, take a walk. Become curious. Slow down. Don’t rush. Walk into your heart. You might be surprised how big it is on the inside. The sun lives there. And all the other stars.