There are many ways you can practice of mindfulness while you are hiking. One way is to focus on your five senses at the beginning of your hike, during your hike, and after your hike.
Before Your Hike:
Take some time at the trailhead to stretch for the hike ahead & get in touch with your senses. Start by closing your eyes (or softening your gaze) & taking 4-5 deep breaths.
1. As you inhale, notice the feeling in the air today & any scents that are entering your awareness.
2. On your next exhale, lower you right ear toward your right shoulder& continue to breathe deeply. Bring your head back up & lower your head toward your left shoulder. Notice the sounds that are at the trailhead today (animals, man-made & even the sounds you make as you breathe). Bring your head back up & let your chin fall to your chest.
3. Bring your head back up & let your shoulders roll back and around. See if your whole body wants to join into this movement. Maybe bending your knees slightly as your shoulders go down & raise up on the balls of your feet as your shoulders go around. Now let’s reverse directions. Notice the sensations moving through your body. Recognize how your body wants to move & practice honoring that.
4. Finish up your last rotation & bring your attention to your feet. Slowly roll your feet back and forth – right to left – across the ground. Now bring your weight to the outside edges of your feet & roll them in – rolling in & out across the ground. Notice the sensation of how the ground feels touching the bottoms of your feet.
5. With your eyes still closed (or softly focused), stay in tune with your senses, & do any gentle stretching that your body needs in this moment.
Option: Make up your own stretches that incorporate the five senses.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W.B. Yeats
During Your Hike:
While you hike pay attention to:
1. what you physically feel (on the ground beneath your feet, natural items you stop to touch along the trail, etc),
2. what you see (above, below, in front of, behind, etc),
3. what you hear (natural noises, man-made noises, etc),
4. what you smell, &
5. what you taste (water, snacks, etc). Don’t taste anything you find on the trail unless you know for certain it is safe to eat.
Note: If you ever find your mind has wondered, that’s normal. Take a moment to refocus on one of your five senses.
* Stop to study something that attracts you. Take a picture of the being. Use the camera & get to know this plant, stream, animal, etc better.
* Stop in one or more places that interest you, and while you are stopped do one or more of the following:
1. Pay close attention to your five senses in this spot.
2. Sketch this spot & or label the parts of the sketch.
3. Create a list of words (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs) to describe the natural elements in the moment.
(example: path, winding, curved, branching, fork, juncture, switch back, back & forth, covered, sheltered with rhodo, tunnel like, rocky, rock strewn, fallen flowers, crunched brown leaves, roots, narrow, single track)
4. Freewrite about what stands out to your five senses in the place.
5. Create a haiku (or poem) that focuses on your sense of the spot.
After Your Hike:
Complete one or more of the following:
1. Check in with your body to see how you feel. You may feel different from when you started or not. Either way is fine. Check in to see where you are.
2. Read over your writing, and underline, circle, or highlight important word or ideas. Think about if they have a meaning or message in your current life. (If not, that’s ok.)
3. This about what worked & what didn’t work on your five senses based mindfulness hike. Make notes for ideas to incorporate into your next hike.
4. Thank yourself & the earth & whoever else you might be grateful to for letting you take this mindfulness hike today!!
Let us know how your mindfulness hike based on the five senses went! What ideas above worked for you? What other steps would you add to the list above?
Make sure your prepared for your mindfulness hike with the “10 Essentials for Your Pack.”