Over at the Huffington Post, new agey-type Lauren Cahn has discovered something that hikers of all stripes already know — walking is meditative!
She describes it as a form of meditation for people who otherwise can’t meditate. You know, Type A folks. And while tons of people I’ve met on the trail strike me as the types who could easily lose themselves in unfocused thought for hours, some of us go-getters always have to feel like we’re doing something in order to feel worthwhile. I blame my Yankee forefathers.
While this idea may not be new to us, Cahn does describe an “Aimless Walking” exercise I found interesting:
I park my car, I set a timer for 15 minutes, and I walk. When the timer goes off, I turn and walk back exactly the way I came. All the while, I’m listening to the leaves crunching under my feet, to the trees rustling, to water flowing over rocks. My eyes are observing my surroundings, and watching for trail markers to make sure that I stay on a marked trail. Other than that, my mind tends to go blank. I don’t have to force it to do so. It just does.
Of course, no one is advocating wandering off into the woods while not paying attention to landmarks and trail dangers, but the same principle applies, I think. When I’m hiking, usually all I’m thinking about is hiking. Occasionally I’m lulled into a walking trance, where all I’m focused on is maintaining the rhythm of my stride, soaking in the silence and the surroundings.
At least, until some rustling startles me out of it. I always assume mountain lion, although so far they’ve almost always been little lizards scurrying away.
Anyone else have any zen-type moments or strategies they’ve learned on the trail?
Image by Madeline Tosh