There is no better feeling than embracing life in the great outdoors. To experience nature by immersing yourself within it is therapeutic and it connects you to your intrinsic self. We are all a part of nature and so, we must feel it and believe in it and live it. This is where the truest benefits are gained. The experience is not just at surface level where we admire the views, but the sense of tranquillity, awe and emotional release is experienced at core level. If you love hiking, you can increase the potency of the whole experience by utilizing mindfulness and meditation. So, whether walking through woodlands or hiking up hills or along mountain trails, use the sensory stimulus all around and draw it deep within. Here’s how.
Why Go Hiking?
Hiking affords the greatest potential to explore new areas and to test your fitness. It increases mental strength and the joy of living as well. Whether you meditate currently or not, you can intensify the whole experience by practicing a moving (mindful) meditation. This is where you reconnect with self. You relish in the joy of movement, and feel those muscle sinews moving each time your feet connect with the ground beneath you. As you pivot forward, each part of the foot is used, from heel to toe and you progress feeling the movement all the way up through the legs, hips, and buttocks.
As you breathe, your lungs expand, and you send life-giving oxygen around the body. The rhythm becomes easy and you work your arms and then, when you have reached your designated point, attention is on the scenery around you. Your meditative state is fuelled by these mesmerizing scenes – whether a river walk or arduous mountain hike. There is beauty everywhere. As you take in the wonders of the scenery, you release pent-up emotions and tension. You relax and any stress dissipates. It is as if you are in another world and you absorb nature all around you.
The Benefits of Meditating on the Trail
Mindfulness enables us to truly live in the moment. We are not observers of life; we feel it and live it. When we combine meditation with a hiking trip, we experience something immensely powerful. We quieten the mind and release any inner doubts or constant mind chatter and instead, there is clarity and space within the mind. Meditation allays inner anxieties. It opens the mind and body to a deep level of peace and tranquillity, more so when immersed within nature.
If you have ever embarked upon a difficult hike, you will know that it can be a test of endurance and fitness. When the going is tough, it is time to embrace a walking meditation. It is about turning the attention inwards and checking out the body. You reconnect with the senses and sometimes, deep emotions may rise to the surface. You are aware of all that is around you on the peripheral and when the views are spectacular, you can stop and drink in the sights and sounds of nature while you feel your heart beating and the breath, restorative.
When you are mindful, you remain in the moment. Your thoughts are not on times gone by or, of the future, you are connected to the now. You feel each movement, but you are aware of external sounds and conditions. You become a part of the natural scene monitoring weather conditions and atmospheric changes. There is a greater awareness and a connection to all that is around you. This is so important when hiking in extreme terrain. Notice the colour of the sky, the cloud formations, listen to bird song and watch out for the sudden silence as birds make their way to roost. Consider the time of year and when dusk will fall. In the hills or mountains changes can occur in an instant and you must be prepared. Absorb the hues of nearby foliage, watch out for signs of animal tracks, and sustain this for as long as is possible. You make your trip come alive.
The Power of Hiking, Mindfulness and Meditation
A moving meditation enables you to experience your trip on a much greater level. You experience the vastness of your surroundings; you relish the wonders of the natural world and you feel the sensations of movement every step of the way. You may struggle, you may wonder if you can achieve your goals or, you may simply relish each moment. Either way, you are living to the full. Rest when you need and sit quietly, and practice deep breathing techniques. As you inhale, send life-giving oxygen to every part of your body, and replenish your energy levels. As you regain your normal breathing cycles, your focus changes. Now, you are amidst nature, let it come to you. By sitting quietly and patiently, you become a part of the scene. Nature is healing. It is inspirational and calming.
When you embark upon a hiking trail, you embrace tranquillity and feel the drama of nature.
Tune into the wonder of simply being in the moment and blend into the scene. Let the stillness envelop you and restore your inner equilibrium. Open the heart and mind and be content in the stillness. Whether you meditate for five minutes or thirty minutes, it is up to you, but know that meditation has a wonderful way of restoring balance. This is a time of peace.
Whenever you go hiking, prepare fully and build up your fitness levels first. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment and experience first, and where possible, join a hiking group or team up with other enthusiasts. Practice meditation too. Reach the point where you can slip into a meditative state quickly, this will afford you the most benefits when you are out on the trail. At this time, you will truly become a part of the natural scene.