Hiking Mindfully, Step by Step – Guide for Beginners
Nature is such a wonderful place to be. It evolves in the present moment, as it adapts to the necessities of life. Oh if only we could become like birds and the butterflies revelling in the present now! Well we could for a moment, if we took time out and went mindfully hiking perhaps.
There’s definitely more to meditation than sitting on a nail bed with the world shut out. Visionaries find their truths on mountaintops, and by wandering through thoughtful deserts. We have many quiet places in our Alps where people come to rediscover their purpose. And as an added bonus the scenery is awesome too.
When Hiking Becomes a Mindful Moment
Hiking through Alpine valleys, or on peaceful guided slopes is an opportunity to stop, and observe creation happening. If we wait quietly for a while, we become part of it as we study the details around us. A delicate flower, or an ancient rock perhaps reminds us we are of the same creation. We have a role to play too, in the timeless cycle of life.
Hiking is good medicine for our bodies, minds, and souls. Food for our bodies as it strengthens our limbs, and fine-tunes our circulation. Tonic for our minds when we leave frustration behind. And sustenance for our souls when we become part of the greater order, no matter how we choose to comprehend the mystery of life.
I’m Not a Youngster. Is Hiking For Me?
If you can stroll through a shopping centre or wander in a city park, then hiking could be for you. Because mindful hiking does not mean covering a particular distance in a particular time. Although we do recommend a visit to your doctor before you try it for the first time.
- If you are an advanced trekker who enjoys challenges, then hiking is for you.
- If you enjoy a reasonably strenuous walk in nature, then hiking is for you.
- If you enjoy gently strolling through easy countryside, then hiking is for you too.
Mindful hiking is for everyone in fact, because there are no standards and no rules. Simply let your mind loose on your surroundings, and appreciate the pleasure of being part of them. Your busy mind will slow when you are at peace with the world. As you shed your cares and see things in context now.
Three Reasons to Hike Mindfully in the Alps
We could be mindful anywhere of course, although nature helps us reach new plateaus of calm up here. We can’t say for sure why this so. Although people we helped discover this place have mentioned these three things:
- Something happens that calms our mind when we hike through a quiet place. The Alps offer a degree of solitude that’s sometimes missing in other hiking terrains. You have space to be alone up here, and you’ll find others respect this too.
- Hiking is a physical activity that reconnects us to our muscles, sinews and bones. But this generates body heat that can be fatiguing. The altitude and the European climate combine to produce a delicious coolness. This eases us gently into relaxed space.
- We are also physically safer in the Alps than in many other mountainous regions. Our societies are well-regulated. Everybody knows each other up here. Our visitors know they can relax, and focus on recovering their peace. That’s how our mountains became so popular for mindful hiking.
The purpose of life is to enjoy the journey. Hiking becomes more meaningful when we stop and experience the now. Instead of rushing onwards regardless. There are so many wonderful places to pause, we can’t promise you’ll complete your hike. But does it really matter if you don’t? The real joy is in the moment!
Preparing for Your First Mindful Hike
It can be useful to decide the pleasure is in the journey, not necessarily achieving any particular goal. Choose a trail that appeals to you, bonds with you if you like. Borrow a map from the chalet where you are staying, or decide how long you are going to hike before you turn back. There are no rules except staying safe. Here are a few suggestions.
- Decide whether you want to be alone in nature and your thoughts. Or whether you would prefer to journey with a guide and a few soulmates, exploring mindfulness together in silence.
- But you do need to be streetwise if you decide to do hiking on your own. Speak to your host or a few knowledgeable locals. What is the weather, is the trail safe. Do you need special precautions?
- Please, never go out walking alone without sharing your plans with someone. What time can they expect you back? Which trail are you following? Exchange phone numbers. Remember to charge your phone before you set out.
So How Do You Actually Mindfully Hike?
We’d like to set your mind at rest before we go off on a virtual hike together. Mindfulness is about treasuring the present moment, for as long as that takes. So before we start, let’s breathe our fresh alpine air in deeply. Are you at peace with yourself now? Good, then let’s get walking.
- Shift your worried brain into park mode.
- Shelve all the thoughts that have been fretting you.
- Open your mind to receiving fresh inspiration and new ideas.
- Then step onto the trail. Feel the ground beneath your feet, and walking poles.
Establish an easy-going breathing rhythm that feels good, that you can keep up, and that harmonises with your legs and your arms. But do make sure your pace allows sufficient time to observe nature around you.
Don’t be shy to pause each time something in your surroundings attracts your attention. Be flexible enough to stop, set yourself aside, and focus entirely on the plant, the bird, the tiny creature, or the breeze caressing your cheeks and ears.
You are a child of Mother Nature now, in this precious moment in time. Give yourself up to all her sensations around you. Feel the sun and the wind caress your body. Smell the plants in the forest. Then find a perfectly natural place to pause and sit, while you treat your body to a tasty snack.
Natures Soul Food Is All About You
You won’t be short of the basic necessities of life in our Alps. You’ll have fresh mountain water filtered through rocks and snow everywhere you go. It could support you for days. We have efficient, effective rescue services if you encounter a spot of bother.
You’ll find wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries growing profusely when you visit in summer. Your friendly guide will show you where to look. So take everything in and a photo to remember the moment.
Your friendly host will be waiting for you when you return, to welcome you back. So wind down progressively as you approach, stretching your pleasantly tired muscles, and releasing any remaining tension. Slide back gently onto the other side of life. Wake up in the morning happily relaxed.
Simple Safety Measures on a Mindful Hike
The European Alps are one of the most spectacular hiking environments still in pristine condition. Well almost, apart from an impressive network of ski cabins, ski slopes, ski lifts, and hiking trails cross the environment to welcome our visitors.
We have a superb emergency rescue service that works in tandem with local people who know every trail and rock face intimately. However, that said, it still makes sense to take simple precautions before setting out on a hike, and getting closer to nature.
- We recommend taking the first hike in company with other guests like you, and preferably with a knowledgeable guide. This should teach you the basics and enrich your experience.
- Study your hiking route in advance. Ask your chalet host for a map. Familiarise the general terrain on Google Earth, and know who to call if you miss your way, or need support.
- Check the weather forecast before you set out, and share notes with your host. Conditions can change quite rapidly in an alpine environment.
- Take a small backpack or shoulder bag with your necessities. Include your map, your charged phone, a solar torch, food and water, sunscreen, extra layers of clothing.
- Dress thoughtfully if the weather changes while you are out. Wear waterproof shoes with thick socks, and a hat that covers your ears. Remember to wear bright colourful clothes, if you visit in hunting season.
All will be good. You should not need half of these things. But it is always wise to be careful in an unfamiliar environment. Even one as lovely as an alpine hiking terrain.