It’s easy and very natural to meditate while hiking. Nature gives us many opportunities to connect with it, and ourselves. What is special about meditating in nature is that it is as simple as it is profound and impactful. Everything we need to balance the flow of our own thought is found in the current of moments along the trail.
On a hike, we can allow ourselves to disconnect from the sources of stress. Even as we step foot on the trail, we can begin to notice the open sky. That’s an invitation to start relaxing and opening up. Let go of any tension by taking your first few steps slowly.
Feel the terrain under your feet. Stay steady by paying close attention to the stability of the foot before you push off. Notice the natural curves and textures of the terrain. Step over roots and rocks, and keep your center of gravity balanced. Lift your chest up, and keep your shoulders back. Move through nature with strength, grace and respect.
As you move, let your eyes follow the terrain around you. Become aware of the most compelling aspects of the landscape, and create an intention in your mind to focus on the beautiful and mysterious. This intention tells the mind, “there are secrets to be revealed here, let me be open to them.”
Follow the easy flow of your muscles as you move, and become aware of how your body is shifting to support your weight. Feel your heart pound in your chest, breathe deeply and take a moment to appreciate that. Our physical bodies are vessels of experience. Nature brings our senses to alert. This gift raises our ability to appreciate everything around us.
Absorb the beauty around you in each moment. Follow the root to the trunk, the trunk to the branch, the branch to the leaf. Watch the hawk glide and float on hidden waves. Listen to the symphony of nature, and follow each note to its source. There are relationships everywhere, and we build our own with each sensory connection. We create our own invisible links with the focused attention on what we are seeing, hearing and feeling.
Learn how to scan nature by paying attention over time. The lines, shapes and patterns tell a story of unseen influences. Study the influences by seeing the flow of the structures. Everything is changing right before our senses. We can observe a tree and watch it change with the light, the wind, the various creatures that visit it. We can lay in a meadow and watch the sky change. Things come and go, and movement is endless.
It is in this observation that meditation is born. We follow the movement in our mind without thought, and watch it come and go. We empty our mind by watching each moment of change as it happens all around us. Change is effortless, and following its process makes meditation the same way. We can focus on the experience and appreciate it, without diluting the vision with a flow of inner dialogue. The current of change becomes a cleansing stream that scrubs the banal and artificial, and fills us with the substantial reality of impermanence. This reality reminds us that the structures of form and thought that sometimes rule our lives have no real weight other than what we give them.
The peace that comes from this process soon becomes evident. Barriers drop, and we no longer feel separate from everything around us. We soon enter in to the current, and it guides us to new levels of understanding and awareness.
With beauty may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty below me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
A Navajo Indian Prayer of the Second Day of the Night Chant (Anonymous)