Memory Walk: An Everyday Ritual to Connect to Nature
By Jeff Wallis
The restorative power of nature can be accessible—anytime, anywhere—through the ritual of a Memory Walk. All you need is a route to walk and a camera.
Pick a five to 10-minute route that comforts or captivates—or find a new one. Use this as an opportunity to explore the trails of a local park or nature preserve. Or when vacationing, identify a stretch of beach or woods, or find a historical site that connects with you in a special way.
Before embarking on your walk, stop at the beginning point for a minute, and then continue to do the same at four or five additional points along the way. Use all of your senses to feel where you are; take note of prominent landmarks or plants, listen to the sounds that fill the area, smell the air. Store the sensations as sensory markers to recall later. Pause to take a few photographs at each of these “sensory spots.”
Now, create your ritual. Find a place and time of day or moment in your week to take your Memory Walk. You might choose to practice your Memory Walk in bed at night or when you wake up in the morning. You could also practice in a favorite chair where you enjoy reading or having a cup of tea. To start the ritual, find a comfortable position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths to relax and focus. Visualize your walk by calling upon your stored sensory markers: recall the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the walk. In your mind’s eye, capture the pictures that you took with your camera. If you find it difficult to recreate the images in your mind, call up the slideshow on your computer. Look at the images on the screen, close your eyes and recall all of the sensory markers from that spot. Advance to the next picture, and repeat the steps.
I take a Memory Walk several times during the week. I also have several walks stored for recall—one in my neighborhood, one from a nature trail, and another along a beautiful Caribbean beach. The ritual of taking a Memory Walk gives me unlimited access to the calming and restorative powers of nature anytime, anywhere.
About the author: Jeff Wallis is a Certified Life-cycle Celebrant and has been an educator for more than 25 years. He is currently a college administrator in New York City and lives in northern New Jersey with his partner and their two cocker spaniels. [email protected]