Hiking to Reconnect

in Travel

A friend at work asked me a question after she saw my video of Bear Mountain, "Have you always enjoyed hiking to gain spiritual clarity?"

The answer would be a resounding "Oh, my Lord, yes".

My daily life is filled with a comfortable and familiar repetition. Things are asked of me, and I respond. My mind swirls on the cares of the day, from child care to computer issues and everything in between. These are all my earthly chores, and I love to tend to them. But every so often comes that moment when I need to unplug and step away from the day-to-day to gain perspective of what is really important. I need to check in to see if I'm living the life of my own design.

The best way this is accomplished is to get out of the car with as little as I need on my back, and start walking. The hike invariably begins with my mind still carrying on about my chores. "When do I have to clean the bird cage? Why did that last backup fail? How am I doing with my plan for retirement?" With each step into nature, my mind is slowly pulled away from these things as my eyes start to see what is around in my present moment. It isn't long before I start thinking on the essence of my existence, my connection to the power that made this beautiful planet, and how my endless spirit is just taking a journey of lessons on this planet in this particular body.

My mind now becomes wholesome and centered. New thoughts begin to flow through. My body is a masterpiece of earthly time and space. I breathe in the air and it takes the oxygen to fuel the fire that allows me to move one foot in front of the other. The intricacies of my brain tissue calculate the best pace to challenge my physical state, assessing the speed, distance and time allowed for this particular journey. Thousands of other involuntary calculations are made that I'm not consciously aware of! The earth, carved and crafted through millennia, is "time stamped" in this moment as I peer through my eyes to take in the majesty of a single rock of billions floating through space. It's in this moment that I can't help to believe in God. Everything that I take for granted in my usual work week is washed away, and for a brief moment of time I have arrived to that place where I ultimately belong - union with the universal Spirit.

I stop at the apex of my hike and stretch it all in. I thank my physical vessel - my body temple - for its ability to do what it can to get me to this place of serenity. I put my hands together in prayer at my heart center and whisper, "Namaste." To me that word means, "I see and honor the God-seed in everything and everyone, everywhere around me." I bow once deeply and start on my way back.

Such is the way of my hikes of solitude to attain spiritual clarity. I like to hike with others as well, but doing so usually means conversations and reflections on various common things. I often ask my hiking partner(s) for 30 minutes of a meditative hike where nothing is said as we walk single-file down the path of nature. I find these group hikes with periods of silence particularly powerful. Sometimes I suggest a topic to reflect on during the silence, and at the end of the quiet we all share our thoughts. Some of what is shared is particularly enlightening, and always refreshing.

I think I'll plan my next outing. Until then, I wish you well on your walk.