The Medicine Walk: A Meditative Walking Exercise

I would like to share a meditative walking exercise with you, the Medicine Walk, that can be very explorative and bring up lots of material for a question that you may have in mind (about your life at present). You can do by yourself in your own time, with a supportive friend or with your therapist during a walk and talk therapy session. I have adapted it from Nick Totton, Body Psychotherapist, Eco-Therapist, and author of "Wild Therapy"[1], with whom we had a fantastic workshop last month.

Why could this be helpful to you at this moment? If you are currently in a transition, experiencing grief or difficulties, or are unsure about something in your life at present, this can be an enlightening exercise! But it means we need to be open to it, curious and try to shut the judgemental or analytical voices in our thinking brain off. And, if nothing comes up, it may either be an answer in itself or at least you had a good relaxing mindful walking meditation in the outdoors and will probably feel better about it!

I would encourage you to have a try, alone or with someone you trust, and just see what happens.

Here is the exercise:

  1. Either on your own or with a partner formulate a question. (It can be ANY question of what is important to you right now, e.g. “How can I get through this difficult time right now?” “Am I in the right relationship?” “Have I chosen the right job?” “Should I apply for a new job?” “How can I be happy again?” “Will I find a new partner?” “Do I live in the right home/place/country?” etc.)

  2. Holding the question in mind, chose a direction and start walking.

  3. Walk slowly and mindfully, holding yourself open and curious to treat EVERYTHING you encounter as part of a response to the question you asked. (This could be a patch of grass, stone, a curiously shaped branch, a beetle coming along, or anything your eyes fall on and that you happen to notice. By observing it connections to your questions can become apparent.)

  4. Feel when the walk comes to a natural end. Stop and consider what you have been shown. (The walk can physically come to an end (end of the path/park or similar) or you feel you had enough, or you may have timed yourself and your timer goes off).

  5. Return and write it down. (You can write your experience in your journal. This way you can have a memory of it and during the writing more reflections, connections or insights may come up.

You don’t need to set a timer, but some people find it useful. It is useful however not to have to worry about time; so make sure you have adequate time and space that you can take for yourself doing this exercise. It is good to take at least twenty, but an hour or longer can be wonderful too and LOTS may come up. I did this exercise on my own at a workshop and an hour of it brought so much up, it was both invigorating as well as emotionally quite tiring. But I have also done this with clients together for only ten minutes, and it can still be very rich, and it can feel much longer than the actual spent time!

And yes, of course we can make a lot of meaning ourselves about anything. Is it however ‘just’ in the head? This is experience can be very embodied, if you pay attention to it. Try to let yourself ‘feel’ also any emotions that may come up. The things we chose to see or what we perceive will create its own meaning for us. Trust that it just 'is' and what we may need at that time, however odd it may seem to the rational mind. Whatever the meanings, messages or fantasies/daydreams that came up, be open and curious about it, holding it non-judgmentally in mind, and it can be a beautiful, powerful and helpful walk - unlike any other you may have done before.

When you have completed it, how did you find it? I would love to hear from you!

For more on similar themes, have a look also at our other blogs.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!


[1] Totton, N. (2011). Wild Therapy – undomesticating inner and outer worlds. Monmouth, United Kingdom: PCCS Books.

1 Totton, N. (2011). Wild Therapy – undomesticating inner an