• Wellness Way Africa route portal

Here are some guidelines that work for me during everyday meditative walks and multi-day pilgrimages:

• Be a pilgrim rather than a tourist, recognising the divine in all around you.

• Be a child and experience that childlike sense of awe and wonder.

• Appreciate that you are but a strand in the miraculous web of life.

• Bring yourself present each day by feeling the Earth beneath your feet and the blessing of sun, wind, rain and the elements.

• Start in silence appreciating that every footstep is a prayer and a blessing given and received.

• Allow quiet time for meditation and introspection and focus on your breath – the in-breath is your inspiration.

• To quiet the mind try closing your eyes, taking some slow deep breaths and making contact with the natural world, perhaps touching a tree, a plant or the sacred waters.

• Practise an attitude of gratitude, appreciating the gifts from Mother Earth and all life – seen and unseen.

• Know that all life is interconnected and interdependent.

• Call on the help and inspiration of the life energies that surround you.

• Listen to the messages from the land, the waters and your own whispers of inner knowing.

• Be open to receive whatever gifts are offered.

And on a purely practical, physical level:

• Practise walking with a full pack before the start of a big walk.

• Remember that unnecessary possessions become unnecessary burdens. Carry only what is needed.

• Make sure you know how to adjust all your backpack straps for maximum comfort and convenience. Experiment.

• Try trekking poles (at home before the start) as these spread the load and take some of the weight off your feet.

• Be well hydrated at the start and always carry enough clean drinking water.

• Walk at a pace that feels comfortable and natural rather than trying to keep up with faster or more experienced walkers.

• Consider using lightweight, quick-drying, wicking clothing and add or remove layers to regulate body temperature.

• Wear comfy footwear that you’re familiar with and be aware that your feet will expand when you’ve been walking a while (tight footwear will hurt you).

• Carry a change of lightweight footwear to change into at the end of the day or go barefoot.

• Choose socks that don’t slip and slide on your feet causing abrasion.

• Try to remove footwear and socks at least every two hours to cool and dry your feet.

• Experiment with ‘Earthing’ and tapping into the positive energies of being barefoot upon the Earth.

• Pack a good hat that shields your face and can function in strong wind.

• Consider packing a multi-purpose buff for extra warmth and protection.

• Listen carefully to your body and don’t ignore pain, discomfort or hotspots that warn of a blister that can often be prevented.

• Consider carrying ‘second skin’ to prevent or ease blisters.

• Try sheep’s wool on hotspots as it cushions tender areas and the natural lanolin oil soothes.

• Have fun – if it isn’t fun it isn’t sustainable!

Geoff Dalglish

Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.