Man walking in city"Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake," Wallace Stevens once said. I'd make that a "walk around the city." I love to walk and have made it a daily part of my spiritual practice. Mary Ann and I don't own a car, and we live in New York City where you don't need one. I can walk almost every place I need to go.

When I am moving down the street, I say my mantra and my mind is cleared for the sensory delight of the city and its abundant stimulation in sights, sounds, and smells. Walking for me is a devotional path that leads through body to Spirit. Of course it is much more as well.

Most physicians recommend 30 minutes of brisk walking every day as a prescription for healthy living and mental clarity. In Surprises Around the Bend: 50 Adventurous Walkers, Richard Hasler, a a Presbyterian minister, includes tributes to this discipline by physicians and naturalists, poets and novelists, politicians and teachers, pilgrims and seekers, prophets and social reformers.

We learn in these pages that Henry David Thoreau felt transformed while sauntering through the natural world. Throughout his lifetime, Carl Jung was an avid walker. William and Dorothy Wordsworth were companion walkers who shared their innermost feelings with each other. Taking a stroll was a regular part of poet Wallace Steven's daily activities, and James Michener included "quiet rambles" in his regimen. Dorothy Day prayed while she walked.

Julia Cameron, a contemporary writer, recommends a regular walk to revive the creative process. In The Sound of Paper, she says a walk both opens us up and feeds us:

"Try this. Nothing invites creative breakthroughs so successfully as walking. Even a twenty minute Walk is long enough to fling open the inner door to insight and inspiration. Take a twenty-minute Walk. Take note: What ideas come to you? What insights, inspirations, and realizations? We speak of a body of knowledge, and walking gives us exactly that. We embody far more than we often allow ourselves to contact. Walking puts us in touch."

For more about walking, see our Topic page on the subject

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