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The Medicine Walk

The term Medicine Walk is adopted from the Native American tradition of taking a contemplative walk in the landscape to ask the natural world for guidance. In contemporary Western terms it could be described as 'a contemplation walk' or 'meditative walk'. The language used is not as important as the Intent behind the act.

A medicine walk differs from a standard stroll in nature in that it involves going out with an inquiry: a question or theme, which is held lightly in the mind of the inquirer. As one walks, usually (but not always) in silence, in the natural landscape, it's important not to hold too tightly to the need for answers, but instead, to ask nature what she can teach us about the question or theme we are bringing. 

A medicine walk is, in essence, an exercise in what Jung termed as "active imagination", the practice of actively employing our imagination in 'make-believe' scenarios to enable conscious communication with our own psyche to take place. We allow our inherent creative capacity to flex its muscles, as we suspend our usual way of perceiving and enter into a more participatory, symbolic mode of being, allowing our imaginal faculty to expand our awareness. Some might call it day-dreaming, but it is infinitely more than that. Anthropologist and shamanic practitioner Carlos Castaneda called it "dreaming awake", which I find a more apt term for this serious and yet playful experience.

The result

We may not always feel we have gained profound insights on a medicine walk, but more often than not we return with something more than we went out with.

What we always come back with is a story, even if it appears to be a fairly mundane one.

This is when further reflection is a good idea, or better still, someone to tell who can mirror your story (see Mirroring).

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