I read somewhere once that a yoga practice, based on movement with the breath, is like a “moving meditation.” Focusing on your breath, letting thoughts come and go but not attaching to them. Learning from the movement of your body. I realized that this moving meditation isn’t just for yogis. I have this same sense of peace while on the trail. Hiking is my moving meditation.
The stress of motherhood, adjusting hormones, emotions, sleepless nights, wondering if I’m doing this whole mother thing well enough can be exhausting. One thing that has helped me through this transition into motherhood has been hiking. I can always rely on a hike through nature to bring me back to basics. It centers me, and reminds me to be patient, kind, and accepting of the present moment. A good hike brings me the clarity to be compassionate despite the reality of imperfection.
Hiking teaches me that my internal dialogues are merely thoughts that come and go.
A constant thump of my feet on the ground is meditative. Climbing and descending, and ascending again. My focus remains with the repetitive sound of each step against the earth. As my baby’s eyes get heavy, the silence of the forest envelops us. I am always quiet to let her sleep and I am left with my own thoughts. No distractions keep me from myself. I engage with my internal dialogue. Recognizing thoughts as they arise and practicing letting them go. I remind myself they are merely passing through.
Hiking teaches me to accept the present moment.
A strenuous hike teaches me to focus on moving forward and to not be imprisoned by my own discomfort. My legs burn and I can’t catch my breath. My baby wakes, won’t stop crying and I’m still a couple of miles from the car. I get annoyed with her whining and at the same time worried if I am a bad mom because I feel annoyed. I get sweaty, hungry, tired and long to go home. I wonder why I ever decided to do this.
I choose to accept the moment as it is. I appreciate my body for its good health and ability to endure. I have patience. Or, I resist the moment. I get stuck in my discomfort. It is up to me.
Hiking teaches me to accept the unpredictability of life and to let go of expectations.
Not every hike is the same and I always begin a new trail with an open mind. It may be an amazing hike with just the right amount of hills and invigorating scenery or it may be a complete disaster that ends in carrying a screaming baby in my arms for 2 miles. I always start with good intentions but no expectations. It may be my new favorite trail or it may be the one and only time I see this particular part of earth.
Hiking brings mental clarity for those who seek it.
Whether hiking alone or with someone else, I can always count on the meditative aspect of my trip. There are always moments of reflection on the trail. Focusing on my steps or the energy I exert to push myself forward. These moments of reflection can bring clarity to my role as a mother and my place in the world. The quietness, the stillness, and the basic nature of the woods reminds me to release anything I am holding onto. I see things with a whole new perspective.