To be happy, walk. There's no reason not to walk, we save both ourselves and the Earth. So begins the featured article in the Catholic Times.
Everyone wants to be happy. One of the first conditions for happiness is health. It is the health of the body, mind, and earth in which we live. 'Walking' is one of the surest ways to bring about these three areas of health.
■ Walking Craze
"When you walk correctly you don't walk to find peace or happiness for the peace and happiness is the very walk itself" from the meditation on walking by the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
A decade ago, the "walking" craze began in Olle Jeju, Korea, and spread throughout the country. Since the first course opened in September 2007, Jeju Olle has led the nationwide walking craze, reaching a total of 26,425 kilometers from the first course to the last regular course in 2012, and is visited by over 1 million people every year. In the Jeju language 'Olle' is the word for the narrow path that leads to one's house.
Earlier in 2006, Camino de Santiago, a Spanish walking pilgrimage route, was introduced to Korea through travel essays, and the "warm sensitivity" of walking began to captivate people. Travelers who were familiar with the speed of travel and the business of taking pictures were fascinated by the 'walking', reflecting on themselves at a slow pace and meditating on life and nature.
Walking was originally a way of human life. However, after the Industrial Revolution, machines replaced walking, and the end of walking came. High competition, gray concrete buildings, and speed wars have moved many to rediscover the value of 'walking' moving slowly and looking inside ourselves.
■ Walking for the health of the body
By several studies, no longer theoretical knowledge, the full-body exercise of walking helps physical health. You can do it anytime, anywhere regardless of time and place. If you release the bodily tensions and get rid of greed you can protect your health without any other exercise. Walking burns fat and prevents obesity. It is also effective in preventing diabetes.
■ Helps mental health
The walking craze, motivated greatly by 'well-being', began as a means of physical health. However, at the same time, the yearning for a slower-paced life, and tired of the 'rat race' may have been the greater motivation. At the same time as trying to regain a healthy body, it was a desire to slowly reflect on the meaning of life and the awe and beauty of nature. No pilgrim walks the Camino de Santiago only because of health.
People go on pilgrimage often when their hearts hurt or long for eternal values and freedom— those who face barriers in their lives, who want to find a new "me," who want to go beyond the pain of life. At the end of the road, they dream of their own recovery.
On the religious level, the original form of pilgrimage was walking. Jesus Christ walked up the hillside of Golgotha carrying a heavy cross. An expert in pilgrimage spirituality said in his book "The Pilgrimage Spirit" that "To make a pilgrimage is to reproduce both internally and externally the image of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim who is the example of our lives."
Like the people of Israel, who were led by Abraham to the promised land, Christians walk their whole lives toward the kingdom of God. We reproduce the journey 'in and out' as a walking pilgrimage. Thus, pilgrimage as an act of walking is a restoration of broken relationships and renewing the souls of believers.
■ For the restoration of damaged natural ecology
Walking is not only a cure for the body and spirit but also a powerful way to revive the global environment and ecology. The Earth breaths again while humans stopped working with Covid-19 in 2020. Fine dust has decreased and warming has decreased.
Today, the most pressing issue regarding ecological environmental issues is the climate crisis. Each country's commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which accounted for the largest proportion of greenhouse gases heating the Earth, is firm but has not achieved much.
The University of Leeds in the U.K. analyzed 7,000 existing studies to identify 10 effective ways not to leave "carbon footprints" (the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted directly or indirectly), the best of them was to refrain from using cars.
■ To be happy, walk
In conclusion, we need to use the material benefits of civilization at a minimum and use more often the simpler things in life such as walking and riding bicycles. These are ways to benefit the body, spirit, and natural ecology.