One of the pleasures of going out for a daily hike is letting your mind wander while enjoying the scenery all around you. But have you ever considered that hiking might also be a great way to practice mindfulness? In short, going out for a solo hike can be a great way to recalibrate your inner personal life, take your mind off concerns like relationships and finances, and truly live “in the moment.”
The first step in practicing mindfulness is making it a conscious decision before you even embark on your hike. Once you’ve reached your hiking area, it’s important to establish beforehand that you are going to dedicate 15 to 20 minutes of the hike to embracing mindfulness. In order to do this, you need to make a few changes to your normal hiking routine. For example, if you usually take along a pair of headphones and music with you as part of your trail running routine, you might want to stash those in your backpack for later.
As part of this conscious decision to embrace mindfulness, the first thing that you will want to do is focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths, slowly in and out. With each new breath, let go of whatever you’ve been thinking about recently. It’s time to focus only on you at this point. The real secret here is that you have to focus on the physical act of breathing – think about what is actually happening to your body with each inhalation or exhalation. Train yourself to slow down and reach a deep, reflective and almost meditative state.
Once you’ve become in tune with your breathing and have reached a state of calmness, it’s time to focus on your other senses. What are you seeing? What are you hearing? Close your eyes and see if you can visualize what is happening around you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how heightened all of your senses are. And, in so doing, you will feel more alive.
Best of all, you will feel more in tune with nature. While modernity has brought so many conveniences, it has also distanced us from the natural world around us. So hiking is a great way to reaffirm the ageless link with nature. You may even find yourself rediscovering some of the lost joys of childhood.
Take time to study the flora and fauna around you. Even the act of studying a leaf – the texture, the shape and the sound that it makes when being crinkled underfoot by your winter traction hiking spikes – can help to heighten your senses and bring you closer to nature.
That’s especially true in winter, when it’s much easier to embrace the solitude of nature. Everything seems to slow down. If you are traversing snowy trails with your trail spikes and navigating icy patches with your ice grippers, then it’s the perfect time to contemplate the enormous changes that nature undergoes throughout the year – and especially during the winter time.
Finally, as you near the end of the 15- to 20-minute period that you have set aside for mindfulness on this hike, focus again on your breathing. With each new inhalation, focus on breathing in the positive energy around you. With each new exhalation, focus on breathing out the negative energy from your own life.
Practicing mindfulness is not always easy, but once you’ve felt what it likes to reach a deeply meditative state perfectly at peace with the world around you, it can actually become a learned trait that you can use even when you are not out hiking. And, by practicing on hiking trails that are already familiar to you, you won’t have the nagging feeling that perhaps you are missing out on something.
Why Yatta Life?
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On your recreational journey, may you always say, Yatta! (I did it!)