How can something as simple as walking be a spiritual practice? Actually, any kind of exercise: walking, running, or hiking, can be a spiritual practice when it is done without the distractions of talking or music, and when done with intention to listening to the Spirit, nature, and the wisdom of the body.
Or, to put it another way, In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, the author says, “The wisdom of the spirit often comes through the wisdom of the body.”
Too often in the west we separate the body, mind and spirit from each other. But, in the Hebrew culture the idea of a SOUL has all three linked together. We separate them to our own detriment. How many people do you know that have allowed their bodies to atrophy and then become unhealthy of mind and spirit as well? Or students in medical school who are so focused on learning that they forget to eat, or walk outside in the sunshine, only to resemble the cadavers they study. We can even become unbalanced spiritually; I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “She is so heavenly minded she is no earthly good.” Walking can help us balance our souls.
I understand this can be harder if you live in a big city. But all cities have parks or marinas. You might need to have headphones on to block some of the noise, or even stream something instrumental to help you clear the external noise away.
For me, walking my dog for 25 to 45 minutes helps get me out of the house, and even though I live in a desert, I can observe the beauty of that landscape. How many Biblical stories happened in deserts? There is much to learn even there.
But, as you know, I’m also a tree hugger and I try to drive up to the trees at least once a month to fill my soul with green beauty. God often speaks to me through nature, but only if I get out long enough to let my thoughts settle and then turn my inner ears to really listen. I don’t have huge revelations every day, but moving my body regularly is a great way to make sure my soul stays in balance.
Have you found that exercise helps strengthen your soul? I’d love to hear your stories.