Reduce Stress with Prayer Walks

By Sharon C. McGonigal

I had not intentionally started to walk as a means of managing stress; it just grew into that. About two years ago I took up daily walking because my physiotherapist had recommended it to help facilitate recovery from a neck injury. He also said that everyone should ideally get up and move around every fifteen minutes or so during the workday, since many of us work sitting in front of computers.

Initially, I was committed to walking to minimize my headaches and heal faster. I purchased a pedometer and even wore it at work (I'm a teacher). Students asked me what it was and I explained my therapy. Co-workers asked how I lost my weight.

What started as power walking evolved into prayer walking - now I call it the 'power of prayer walking'.

As I started praying while walking, I found it had a soothing effect, releasing stress and anxiety. Each week, I increased my distance. At times I didn't want to walk because of cold weather, but I pushed myself to go anyways (dressing appropriately, of course). On one bitterly cold day, I was cold when I started but warmed up as the walk progressed. When I returned home all my extremities were warm and my headache was gone. Now, I walk in any kind of weather - I actually embrace the challenge.

Two months into my program, I decided to take the children walking. I thought if I could take one child at a time, we could visit and bond. Before long, the children became bored with this. My next strategy was to entice them with a treat. After walking with me four out of five days, one of my twins said, "Mom, the milkshakes are nice, but I just can't walk any more." That ended the walks with my children for a while.

Recently, however, my three youngest boys and I took up a flyer route - now we earn money as we walk. At times while walking they tell me a favourite place they want to deliver to, because of the flowerbeds or the dog that lives there; at Christmas time, they have favourite homes because of the decorations.

As I walk, I pray, and the time and stress just falls off of my shoulders, leaving me lighter in more ways than one when I return home. Thus far, I have lost forty pounds, increased my resistance to sickness, and feel much more energetic.

Over time, my children have begun to appreciate the benefits of walking too. Now when they feel stressed or upset, they ask to go for a walk. My oldest son, almost twenty, told me he also prays while he walks.

I know the power of prayer is working when we go for a walk and the children stop to look at something as small as a colored rock and look at it in wonder. Sometimes, with my daughter, I feel such joy in just hearing the sound of her footsteps. The most exciting part now is that my children invite me to join them for a walk. Even though we are walking and talking about other things, I know we have created a bond of love and friendship. This is the power of prayer walking.

So if you are looking for an easy way to reduce stress, lose weight, build your energy, and strengthen bonds with your family members, I encourage you to discover the power of prayer walks.

Sharon lives in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada and works as a freelance writer, teacher, storyteller, driver training instructor, editor and parent of five children. She is also the creator of: Write off the Wall - a series of writing workshops for ages five to adult. Her most recent contribution, 'Patience By Example', is included in the book Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven and What They Continue to Teach Us; a series founded by Gerry Murak. You can reach Sharon at: scwriter@telus.net

 


 

 
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