Medicine Walking

Before I hosted Viva Institute’s annual Sedona Weekend, I decided to schedule my own retreat — with a shaman. It’s something that I’ve longed to do for years, and so before visiting Sedona I did some research and found the right match.

vivas-sedona-retreat-2015The timing of my shamanic retreat was perfect because I was on my third week of “re-rawing,” or going raw again after a year of being vegan/vegetarian. I’ve been raw-vegan since 2008 (that’s how Viva Institute got its start), so I knew that my cleaner body would mean increased spiritual connection, creativity, and energy. I didn’t realize how essential that would be until I learned that I’d be spending three days walking, meditating and drumming from dawn to dusk!

As a teacher of intuitive development, I’m always looking for new ways to connect that will feel accessible to my students. During my three days with Shaman Sandra Cosentino, my favorite practice was the Medicine Walk. A Medicine Walk is a purposeful, intention-focused walk that invites the natural world to provide answers to a specific question. “Medicine walking” allows the mind to be in a relaxed state of focus while receiving guidance from the natural world, which in the Native way, is called “medicine.”

If you’re like me (a nature girl since birth!), my daily walks have always been a deeply personal form of meditation for me. If you are someone who struggles with meditation but finds deep connection and “communion” in the natural world, I invite you to try this ancient and sacred practice during your next walk.

Medicine Walk

  1. Before you enter the natural place where you are about to walk, set your intention. Think of a question that you’d like guidance on that doesn’t have a “yes” or “no” answer.
  2. When you know what the question is, silently announce yourself to the place you are about to enter, and ask permission to enter. Wait quietly for an answer, and intuit the response. (It will feel like an inner knowing, or you may even hear a “yes.”)
  3. When you are ready, begin walking purposefully, with your question present in your mind.
  4. Look for four signs. As you walk, when your gaze focuses on a specific object (a tree, a flower, a rock, an animal, a stream, etc.), stop and reflect on its meaning for you. Don’t think about it too hard — just ask your question and wait for an answer. As Sandra explained to me: “Each element of nature has its own energy field which in Native way would be called its unique medicine. Flashes of insight flow in — just notice and continue medicine walking or sitting.”
  5. When you have received the guidance you are looking for with the first object, continue walking until another object has captured your attention. Ask for insight, wait for the answer, and continue walking until you have received four signs.
  6. When you have received all four signs, give thanks for the insight. If it’s helpful, take mental or physical notes so that you can return to this message when you need to.

leigh-hopkins-at-tree-of-life-labyrinth“We walked always in beauty, it seemed to me. We walked and looked about, or stood and looked. Sometimes, less often, we would sit down. We did not often speak. The place spoke for us and was a kind of speech. We spoke to each other in the things we saw.” ― Wendell BerryJayber Crow

To contact Sandra Cosentino, look up Crossing Worlds Journeys.

Leigh Hopkins is the Director of Viva Institute, “virtual retreat for the modern mystic.”