If you were to look up the word Mindfulness in the Oxford dictionary you would find the definition, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
By being present in the moment and focusing mindfully at a task at hand, whatever it might be, it will help to slow down our thoughts, nervous system and stress responses. This is beneficial because it gives our emotional and physical bodies a chance to relax and recharge.
Research has shown that being out and connecting with nature, especially hiking, has many physical and emotional health benefits. When we are out in the woods or on the trail, we escape from the non-stop stimulants of everyday life. In this day-in-age we are constantly on or near our phones, computer, watching tv, being bombarded by stressful current events, long work days, daily expectations and to-do lists. As you can see, our minds barely have time to take a rest and are yearning for peace and solitude.
Hiking has been shown to be an effective outlet for people to find that peace and solitude. Many people can agree to feeling refreshed, recharged and gaining a new perspective on life after their “date” with mother nature. But what about those days or hikes where your mind is still racing and thinking about your to-do lists? Have no fear! Let us share some mindfulness techniques to practice while hiking or everyday life.
-When practicing these techniques, you will notice that your mind may wander. This is completely normal! Without frustration, simply honor the thought of feeling that comes up, and guide your attention back to your breath, sensation or nature.
-Start slow and take baby steps. This takes practice!
Remember, Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Gift yourself the time to unplug from this fast paced and sometimes overwhelming world and allow yourself fully absorbed in the beauty of nature. Enjoy!