Finding wonder on a walk is one of many ways you can strengthen your well-being through walking.
Not only can walking improve your physical fitness, it can also boost your mental well-being. Wonder walks are times of intentionally searching for awe while walking.
A fuzzy caterpillar crossed a sidewalk in front of me. Pausing to avoid stepping on it, I watched the tiny creature crawl. The caterpillar’s bold black and yellow stripes stood out against the white concrete as it wriggled past with surprising speed. It seemed to be moving with purpose and determination. Mesmerized, I felt as if time stood still while I watched. The stress I’d felt before my walk evaporated in the transcendence of those moments. Awe had found me on another wonder walk.
The wonder walk process is simple. Set an intention to expand your perspective, so you can see the everyday miracles around you. Look for something that helps you transcend stress and enjoy the present moment fully. Go on an adventure of exploration, searching for awe with a curious mind and an open heart. You can experience awe on a wonder walk in many ways, including these:
- Wonder walks that excite you: Feeling excited can make you more attentive, helping you notice the awe around you. I’ve encountered a diverse variety of situations that excited me on wonder walks around my neighborhood. Those include: rabbits chasing each other through a yard, a family screaming with joy while riding electric scooters together, and a satellite sparkling in the night sky.
- Wonder walks that engage your senses: Your physical senses are portals that spiritual awe can flow through. My senses have come alive on wonder walks countless times, including: hearing innovative music from a garage band practicing, feeling the splash of raindrops on my skin, and smelling soup wafting out a restaurant’s windows (then ordering that soup and tasting it).
- Wonder walks that bring you peace: When you feel at peace, you can relax and become more aware of the everyday miracles in your surroundings. Wonder walk experiences that have given me a transcendent sense of peace include: snow that settled like a soothing blanket on everything in sight, a leaf falling from a tree into a stream, and a field scattered with bright yellow buttercup flowers.
- Wonder walks that inspire you: Experiencing inspiration can easily lead you to awe. Inspiring experiences I’ve found on wonder walks include: a group of firefighters rescuing a cat from a tree, grandparents and grandchildren working together to build a car from a kit, and a majestic rainbow arching through the sky after a storm.
- Wonder walks that surprise you: When you encounter something surprising, you become more alert, which helps you discover the wonder around you. I’ve come upon many delightful surprises during wonder walks, such as: a shooting star, a parade in progress, and unexpected wildlife (including a crab that hitched a ride in my neighbor’s boat from a faraway bay to our forested neighborhood).
By looking for something that sparks awe during a wonder walk, you can discover fresh inspiration with every step!
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Director at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) and writes the Waking Up to Wonder blog. She has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.