Is your mind racing? Keep reliving moments that you wished had gone differently? Anxious about the future?
With so much uncertainty surrounding our current socioeconomic climate, it is easy to get swept up in ruminating thoughts or feel the apprehension of what the future holds.
On my recent Mindfulness walks, many people expressed very similar concerns about not only the economic fallout from COVID-19 but the effects that this is having on their family’s mental health and well-being. Isolated from support networks and finding themselves in a dark place.
With Quarantine restrictions starting to ease, those who were hesitant to be in “lockdown”, now conversely anxious to step back into some form of new normality. This unseen threat has created a worldwide hysteria and it takes conscious effort to approach new ways with lateral thinking.
When I head out for a hike with my husband, our conversations range from reflecting on past experiences to future plans and trips that have been rescheduled, however, there is a time when I check myself and slip into my own world of sensory practice.
My hands stroke the rough bark of the trees as I wander past, my sense of smell is heightened as the breeze passes through the pines that line the path that I walk, the birdsong lifts a weight from my chest and the deep conscious breaths wash over me with a calming resolve that upturns the corners of my mouth.
Nature holds many benefits, bringing awareness to your senses heightens the impact so, if you’re heading out for a hike, following are my suggestions for anchoring you into the present moment, mindfully.
Conscious control of our breath is the fastest way to anchor into a Mindfulness practice. It is the one bodily process that allows us to tap directly into the nervous system and slow down. Through conscious, rhythmic control of deep inhalations and exhalations, we help to detoxify our lungs and shift stagnant energy that affects our physiology and psychology.
Rather than wander aimlessly, setting an intention or purpose of a hike before you set off provides a direction, akin to a map of your mind. You wouldn’t head off into the bush without knowing where you are going and what you wish to see, achieve, and accomplish. So in the same regard, setting an intention for how you will explore will provide a guide to how you experience the hike. Having a purpose or a goal helps to centre you if your mind begins to wander.
Grounding through our senses is a great way to anchor into the present moment, allowing instant feedback for where you may be holding stress, anxiety and emotional distress. When we bring awareness to what we see, smell, hear, touch and taste we are receiving immediate feedback from our receptors all over our body. Immersing our senses in the natural world adverse to urban lifestyle, we are tapping into our primal genetics that essentially reset our nervous system; all by simply paying attention.
How often do you check in with your body? Consciously scanning your body from head to toes is a therapeutic technique to release stress and emotional baggage they you carry through your muscles and energy centres of our body. Find a place with the forest or by the beach to sit in stillness, silence the mind, and turn inwards to invoke deep relaxation and calmness.
Close down your eyes, scanning your body from the crown of your head down to your toes, bring awareness to any points of tension, tightness in your muscles and allow yourself to let go, loosen and relax tense muscles and tune in to the surrounding environment.
Mindfulness is a practice, through repetition and training yourself to recognise where stress, anxiety and your emotions show up for you psychically, it provides the opportunity to see it, feel it, enabling you to take control and cultivate balance through connecting to nature and the nature of self.
As a Mindfulness practitioner, adventure tour guide, and wellness coach, I provide the platform, education, and guidance along the trails to explore nature through mindful hiking.