Walking in Nature

Your guide to beautiful, short hikes near Seattle, WA.

Mindfulness

We may walk in nature forgetting that we are nature. We surround ourselves in stagnant spaces that change only if we change them. Nature is always changing and so are we if we allow it. How do you allow it? Space. Like the white space on a page, we need space to be able to see. If there were no space on a page, how could you read my words? The page would be black. Your mind needs space too. Walking in nature gives us space, to think, process and just enjoy being alive. It puts life into perspective.

What is mindfulness? It is awareness, pure awareness of everything just the way it is. Many things we do can be mindless or our thoughts can be mindless. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. It is being in this moment and realizing this experience right now is unique; it’s never happened before. The past is not happening anymore, the future is unknown.

Mindfulness can be used on your hike to connect to this moment in complete gratitude for being alive and being able to experience everything around you. As you walk, notice the plants and animals without labeling them. Just see them for what they are. Be an observer. Look at them like you’ve never seen them before, because you never have. You may have seen something similar. Your brain fills in information based on past experiences and tends to ignore the familiar. Notice what you see, what you hear and what you smell as you walk. Notice what you are thinking. Allow any thoughts or feelings to arise without judgment. Try this out for any period of time you’d like, be it 10 minutes or the whole hike. It’s up to you.

Sitting meditation is another option. Find a good spot to sit in the forest or near a river. Close your eyes and listen to all of the sounds near and then far. Notice any scents. Relax any tense muscles. Notice any thoughts you have without judgment. Notice your breath for a few minutes. Don't try to change it. Open your eyes and notice everything around you. Bring a journal to write down anything important that comes up for you.

Another idea is to set an intention during your hike. What do you desire? What matters most to you? This is not like an everyday goal. It's more like a heart-centered, spiritual goal, like to be more loving or peaceful. It's best to do this in a calm state.