With everything in our world so crazy because of covid-19, let’s focus on the the simple things that gets us moving to keep sane (especially if you are a super active person) like taking a walk or hike to be in a state of meditative paradise.
How would it feel if you could be on a beautiful tropical beach, or skiing the Alps? We can in our minds if we learn how.
Do you know that a simple walk or hike in your woods can take you to a place of pure joy? I hope to be able to teach you how I’m able to accomplish a meditative walk or hike today and share this with you so you can do the same.
(Right now, please do not visit anywhere with many people. If you need to go on a walk, please keep a safe distance, and do not touch anything while you are out!)
When we are outside with the sunshine on our skin, we truly have the chance to experience ourselves and the world around us in a serene way. ￼ I believe when we’re out in nature we feel more connected to ourselves. I know that’s true for myself, when I am spending time in nature my stress level is lowered￼, and in these times with anxiety, uncertainty, and possibly depression setting in, being outside boosts your creativity and sharpens your focus. Let’s learn how to cultivate our presence and intention to making our walking or hiking experience more than just a walk or a hike.
FIRST LETS TALK ABOUT SIMPLE MEDITATION
I practice each morning meditating for about 10 to 15 minutes before I get out of bed, it is the way I start pretty much every day. I believe this sets my intention for the day, it puts me in a good mood right from the start. ￼ When I learned meditation, probably 10 years ago, it taught me how to control my thoughts so I could focus on things that were positive, not the chaos that could possibly take over my mind. Meditation taught me to live in the moment, not worry about what might happen in the future because the future can’t be controlled. ￼￼ I think the easiest way to start to learn to meditate it’s just simply by experiencing your breathing. Noticing each inhale and each exhale. I try to make my inhalations deep and full, my exhalations longer than my inhalations. I think focusing on your breathing is a great way to start because it is something you must do to survive, and if your mind wanders, mine still does, I gently bring my thoughts back to my breathing. ￼
After practicing meditation for a few years, I learned to focus in my mind on beautiful places I have visited, or a certain smell (ex. I love the smells of the beach ) or feeling you once had, and focus on that. This a little harder than focusing on your breathing but with practice you’ll understand how to bring yourself back to that one specific thought or feeling. ￼
So what’s WALKING MEDITATION?
For me my walking meditation consist of complete focus on the path I have chosen to walk. For example, If I choose to walk on a nature path, I will only focus on noticing flowers, bushes, bugs or whatever may be present along that trail.￼￼ I try not to get distracted with thoughts of the day, this is my time of letting go of all of that￼. I walk very slowly as not to miss anything along the path as I continue my deep, rhythmic ￼breathing￼. Another thing I try not to do is worry about time. If I do you have a time restraint for this type of walk I’ll set an alarm ( I set the alarm for 1/2 of my journey, then I know it’s time to turn back) so I won’t be late. This allows me not to worry about the time.
The difference between a walking and hiking meditation for me is my heart rate. When I’m doing a hiking meditation I also want to have the feeling of a little bit of a cardio workout, but I don’t want that to be the focal point. Instead of noticing the nature, the bushes, the bugs, and the slowness￼￼￼,￼ I noticed the ground beneath my feet. As I am climbing a hill, I notice the bumps, the rocks, the dirt, how each step lands￼￼. I concentrate on where each next step will be, I think about the muscles I’m using to climb the hill￼, and I concentrate on pushing myself faster. I listen to the sounds I’m making, my heavier breathing, I feel my heartbeat. I’m extremely alert to my surroundings, listening to the birds, or hearing a waterfall￼￼￼, but I still try to keep a slight focus to my heart rate and my breathing and push myself the entire way up the hill.
Some key points to keep in mind on your WALKING and HIKING MEDITATION journeys:
1. Choose Your Favorite Places. Being in nature has so many benefits. The number one benefit for me, is that being in nature naturally reduces stress. Another benefit is the great outdoors helps to regulate our nervous system, and also helps increase our sense of joy, and reminds us that we’re just this one little being in this giant beautiful world. ￼￼￼￼
2. Experience the sensations. When you were outdoors, it’s an excellent time to really tune into your senses. For me that means feeling the sunshine on my skin, feeling the wind in my hair, the smells, the sights the sounds. Teach your mind to experience just that one moment in time, the here and now￼￼ and no other distractions.
3. Just put one foot in front of the other. Teach yourself to breath rhythmically and go at a slow pace, don’t rush the precious moments. When you learn to focus on one step at a time it’s easier to experience the here and now and that meditative feeling. Just feel the rhythm of your body moving and concentrate on that. ￼￼
4. Concluding your walking or hiking meditation. When I finish my walking or hiking meditation I like to do something a little odd but I feel it seals in my practice. I love to end my hike or my walk in tree pose. I’ll try to find a safe space, kind of out-of-the-way and look for something beautiful that I can focus on, my drishti point. I will do a simple tree pose, hands at heart center. This way I can feel my heart beating and also my breath as my chest rises and falls. I’ll stay in this pose for as long as I feel it serves me, and for the second side I will choose a different drishti focal point and start over.
I would love so much to hear your journey of calmness. What brings you inner peace and serenity?