How To Walk: A Book Review

My reasons for hiking the Appalachian Trail lean more towards self-discovery, mindfulness, and meditation. In order to set a foundation for a mindful and meditative thru-hike, I’ve been reading many books on the subjects. The most recent of these is a wonderful little book called How To Walk by Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Even skeptics may find good reminders about interacting mindfully and conscientiously with the Earth that is our home.

How to Walk book cover

I won’t be wearing flip-flops, but I will be hiking mindfully thanks to this book!

How To Walk

by Thich Nhat Hanh, Review by Zoë Symon

Breathe out. Feel your feet solid on the Earth. You have already arrived.

This book is great for current practitioners and new beginners alike. Broken into short entries on a variety of walking-centric topics and anecdotes, it is easily digestible over time or all at once (I read one or two a day while waiting in line for coffee). Titles include: “Walking is a Celebration,” “Walking Outside,” “A Long Walk,” and many more.

As we walk (on the Appalachian Trail or off), Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to live and walk in the present. We are encouraged to observe, notice, and love the Earth upon which we walk. When we begin a day of hiking with attention, presence, and acceptance, we will experience joy, despite a heavy pack and any number of blisters or scrapes. We are reminded many times over that the destination is not the goal, but rather the experience of the journey is what should be enjoyed, which is something that every thru-hiker should keep in mind.

“We can value each step we take, and each step can bring us happiness because we’re in touch with life, with the source of happiness, and with our beloved planet.

Though skeptics of mindfulness or meditative practices may scoff at the book, I believe that the underlying teachings present are something that no one can argue with. They’re an important reminder of the beauty in the world around us, and in the other humans around us.

It’s never too late to start or add to a meditative practice, and Thich Nhat Hanh makes walking meditation extremely accessible.

Do you have another favorite book of mindfulness or meditation? Let me know in the comments!


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