Top Five Reasons Why Hiking and Mindfulness Practice Go Together

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Introduction

Mindfulness should be something we cultivate no matter what our physical surroundings. However, for those of us who practice meditation regularly, we know that trying to stay centered and grounded while stuck in a traffic jam or during a hectic day at work or while trying to cook dinner during your child´s temper tantrum is definitely challenging. Finding special places to renew and rejuvenate our energies and bring our mind back to the present moment is something that all of us need. Thanks to our friends from Live Once Live Wild, we put together a blog post to show how Hiking offers the perfect opportunity to do just that.
 
The Nature of Mindfulness and Mindfulness in Nature

Hiking allows us an opportunity to enter into areas of solace and peace that define the natural world. Rather than an escape from our everyday reality, hiking allows us a space to reflect on our lives and our place in the world and thus reenter our everyday lives with a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Below we list five of the reasons why hiking is the perfect way to help us develop a deeper sense of mindfulness.

Less Noise

First and foremost, hiking usually takes us into areas where the stressful noise of car horns, ringing phones, and yelling neighbors is transformed into the gentle sounds of bird song and wind moving through the pine trees above us. These naturally soothing sounds grant us an opportunity to listen to our inner self and to the greater world around us; something that is often hard to do in our fast-paced, noise-filled lives.

Air to Breathe

Focusing on the breath as the most basic form of our existence is the most basic practice of meditation or mindfulness. Nowhere is it easier to focus on the breath than during a hike into the pristine mountains or lush forests where the air around you is pure, wholesome, and deeply nourishing. Hiking, then, allows us to truly focus on the richness of each and every breath that we take.

A Reminder of Reality

It is all too easy to become completely absorbed and occupied in the business of our everyday lives. Work deadlines, the task of raising children, the effort to live happily with your partner; all of these can consume the entirety of our energy and make us lose sight of the greater picture. While we should mindfully engage in the everyday tasks of life, hiking allows to momentarily put those tasks aside as we contemplate the greater scene of reality of which we are a part.

The Smallness of Our Lives

Walking through an old growth forest, contemplating the vastness of seemingly endless prairie, or hiking up a massive mountain allow us to gain a perspective regarding the smallness of our lives. It is important, at times, to lose our human centered hubris through contemplating our true size and relative insignificance in the grand scheme of things.

A Place to Feel Unity

Lastly, hiking allows us to experience a sense of unity and harmony with the greater whole. A deep sense of mindfulness that reveals the underlying unity of life often comes during periods of retreat and reflection in the natural world. Whether it be Buddha under the Bodhi tree, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, or you on a hike in your local state park, the natural world offers unique opportunities for insight into the deepest truths of reality.

Centering Yourself in Nature

Hiking should never replace your daily practice of meditation or mindfulness that you do in your living room, in a yoga studio, or at the office. However, developing the habit of getting out of our urban environments and into the natural world will allow you to deepen your sense of mindfulness and thus be able to more deeply engage with the tasks of everyday life.

Talk soon,

Dr. Ilene

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