One of the oldest ways that human beings have sought insight and self-awareness is by turning to the living world. The medicine walk is a simple technique to help you do the same. Traditionally, the medicine walk might last a full day or longer and include fasting from food in order to increase personal clarity. But you can learn the process in a much shorter time–even under an hour–and get satisfying results. And you can always consider doing a more extensive version in the future.
Learn the simple principles of the medicine walk, here:
1. Place. For your medicine walk, go to a natural area that feels strongly inviting. It’s better to be away from human activity as much as possible, but if that isn’t possible, do what you can. Before you begin, take some time to get centered and aligned both inside yourself and with your surroundings. Focus your intention by following your breath until you feel quiet and ready. Tune in to the energy of the place and ask it–verbally or silently–if it would be willing to help you. The positive feeling you get in response will be your sign to continue. If you have any doubt about the response, choose another place that feels really good.
2. Intention. The most important part of your medicine walk is the clarity of your intention. To set your intention clearly, think of a question around which you’d like insight. It could relate to any area of your life. The more specific you make your question, the clearer the answer you’ll get.
When you’ve chosen your question, turn your attention back to the living environment around you. Either aloud or silently, ask this place and the creatures within it to help you gain insight around your question. Say the question aloud, at least once, to help yourself be as clear as possible.
3. Listen. When you feel ready, start to walk. Take all the time you like. Keeping silent will help you to maintain your focus on the question.
As you walk, release any expectations about what you think you should find. Follow your impulses and let them guide you to whatever calls you. When something attracts your attention, sit with it. See what it has to share with you about your question. How do you feel when you’re with it? What insights come to you?
The medicine walk draws on your imagination and symbolic awareness. The answers you receive probably won’t come verbally or literally. Instead, approach this communication as you might approach a dream of a painting. Let it speak to the intuitive, nonverbal parts of your awareness.
Example: Randy talked about the trees: “The trees all felt so self-contained. None of them seemed to have any question about whether they were doing things right or whether they had a right to be there. I realized I might try to be that way myself and just do what feels right instead of worrying what people say all the time.”
4. Gratitude. When you feel complete with your medicine walk, take a few moments to thank the place for the insights you’ve received. If you like, use a simple, symbolic gesture to communicate your gratitude. This helps to complete your process and lets you return to the rest of your life with greater clarity. Breathe consciously and take a few moments to re-center yourself before you return to normal awareness.
If you’ve received answers, write them into your nature journal. If your experience was less focused, record it anyway. In either case, allow yourself to stay open. Sometimes, the most dramatic insights come to people after they’ve completed their medicine walk–either in dreams or at other times.