by Tammy LaDrew: Everyday I go on a walkabout…
Traditionally, a walkabout is rite of passage for young, male aboriginal Australians. Going into the wilderness, they followed the trails of their ancestors as they learned to take care of themselves and transition into manhood. It involved ceremonial preparation, enlightenment, healing and spiritual awakening and often lasted 6 months.
My walkabout takes place on a 3.5-mile gravel road that loops and meanders around our neighborhood woodlands and farms. Each morning I head out into nature holding the intention to be open to life – to see, hear, feel, taste and touch the world before me.
These daily walks have allow me to have a more intimate experience with life, but it has not always been that way.
My walkabouts started years ago with a desire to get some exercise and shed some excess weight – but without a conscious presence to my surroundings, I found that I quickly became bored and disenchanted with the daily routine. Despite living in remarkably beautiful area, when I set out with the intention of just getting my exercise over and done with, life fell flat.
My father, who is a photographer, claims to have never been bored a single day in his life – and I believe him. He’s famous for his curiosity, his ability to witness and attend to nature, to be in relationship with life. He not only looks at life, he truly sees and honors what is before him. In many ways, his life has been one long walkabout.
Adopting this curious outlook, I took it into my daily life. With this new way of being, living became a rich tapestry, woven one step at a time as I explored the world from a more conscious perspective.
I discovered that the world we live in is filled with amazing encounters – if we just stay conscious. This is a short list of some of the things I’ve encountered:
- Trees with hearts and eyes
- Smiley faces in the forest
- A strangely petrified groundhog
- A carved-bone buffalo knife
- Wildlife: Bear, deer, fox, coyote, skunks, squirrels, raccoons, blue heron, hawks, king fisher and coyotes, snails, cicadas, ants, worms, wasps and turtles
- Scientists that travel from far parts of the world to study our plant and forest ecology.
- A field of spider webs, a nest of snakes
- A $20 bill, beer cans, bottles, McDonald’s trash, sofa, tires, condoms
- Several feet of snow, of ice and the quiet hush before a rush of wind through pine trees
- Thousands of frogs singing in the wetland and the call of cicadas
- Feathers, turtle shells, and fog rising on the river
- Lighting, thunder and hot murky sweat rolling down my face
- A connection to God, Source, the Universe.
In practicing these daily walkabouts, I received a far more precious gift than a just some exercise.
Each day, a new gift unfolds but perhaps the greatest gift is a new way of being in the world – a way of being in conscious relationship – no matter where I am, whom I’m with or what I’m doing, life is my spiritual practice.
For those ensconced in modern life, a six-month hiatus from our daily-life to go on walkabout might be challenging, and you may not live in the wilderness, but to go on walkabout all you really need is a little bit of consciousness. With consciousness, you can walkabout your house, drive around the city, or travel the world – all from a conscious perspective. So here is a way to weave it into your everyday life.
1. Start out with a clear intention. My walkabout intention is to see, experience and be present to whatever gifts the universe is offering today. I actively look and listen for what the universe is showing me.
2. Schedule time for your walkabout. Mine is daily and it’s sacred. This is your time to be in full, conscious relationship with the world – respect it and you respect yourself.
3. Practice gratitude and compassion for what is showing up in your life – even for what is difficult. For example, the trash I find along the road is now an opportunity for me to bend, stretch and contribute to a cleaner environment.
4. Share what you have found with others. Perhaps they too, will be inspired to go on walkabout!
Oh, and by the way…yes, you’ll get some exercise and you may even lose some of that extra baggage you carry around.