November 22

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Meditation and How It Can Improve Your Hiking Experience


When it comes to meditation, Buddhist monks sitting motionless on the slopes of the Himalayan mountains come to mind. But the skill has long been part of our lives, and the benefits of meditation have been scientifically proven, especially for intellectual workers. Meditations, like the simplest games at tonybet.com or stretching workouts, help the brain to rest, to switch gears, and to find solutions to problems that won’t go out of one’s head. In the conditions of urban life, we often don’t find time even for minimal physical activity, to say nothing of such practices, but how do you like the idea of meditating on the move while trekking in the mountains?

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What Is Meditation

Meditation is the practice of concentrating on a specific object, thought, or feeling. This training of attention and awareness helps one achieve mental clarity and emotional stability. Meditation is found in religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. But we are interested in its applied meaning: how to get rid of anxiety, to switch, to stop the merry-go-round of thoughts in the head. You can call it psychological hygiene or the practice of mindfulness. In any case, meditation has a beneficial effect on physical and mental health.

Types of Meditation

Still or “Sitting” Meditation

It’s a classic practice where one sits in a comfortable, straight-backed pose and focuses on the breath, the sensations in the body, or the flame of a candle. These meditations are often used in yoga classes, vipassana and retreats, and are sometimes combined with breathing exercises. Passive meditations can be done at home, at work, and on public transport, alone or with audio accompaniment; the main secret to success is regularity of performance.

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Meditation in Motion or “Walking” Meditation

This type of meditation isn’t as common as passive meditation, but you have encountered it in everyday life: while taking a shower, stirring soup, exercising or while walking, you suddenly catch yourself in a “hanging” state, your eyes unfocused, your head zero thoughts. At such moments the brain works in a special mode, only basic programs are maintained: breathing, balance, repetitive mechanical actions. The mind is not busy analyzing, calculating, and thinking about the future, a huge resource is released to solve pending tasks. Learn to consciously bring yourself into this state, and you can turn any routine activity into meditation.

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Hiking as Meditation

Most of the mountain trekking is meditative walking. In the first days of the hike, the brain is busy processing new sensations: the weight of the backpack, the rubbing of the boots, the shifting scenery. What other difficulties in the campaign meet the tourist, you can read in our other articles. But by about the third day, the body adapts: loads that at first seemed insurmountable become routine.

 

You can accelerate the adaptation with the help of physical and psychological preparation for the hike. At the moment of adaptation and need to start meditating.

Runner’s Euphoria

This is a state of elation that occurs in athletes during prolonged training with rapid breathing. As a result of cyclical exertion, resistance to pain and fatigue increases. Athletes feel happy, calm, ready to face life’s challenges, and think more clearly. If we add to this some symptoms of mountain sickness and the effect of a change of scenery, we get the euphoria of a hiker. After a rapid ascent, however, there can be a sharp decline.

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How to Start Meditating While Hiking

Unmoving Meditation at Stops and Resting Places

Hiking camps are usually made in picturesque places, and if you have a spare moment between collecting firewood and washing the boiler, you can take time to meditate on the hike. You can find a secluded spot with a view of the sunset or sit by the fire, looking at the flames. You can do it without leaving your tent before going to bed, the main thing is to be comfortable.

How to Meditate

  1. Find a secluded place with a beautiful but static view. Don’t forget about safety rules, warn the instructor and don’t sit with your back to a crumbling mountain slope.
  2. Provide comfort and warmth: comfortable clothes, a rug as a mat, you can cover yourself with a sleeping bag.
  3. Sit cross-legged with a straight back. If your back is tense in this position, you can lean on a tree or a rock. Try not to meditate lying down; most likely, in such a position you will immediately fall asleep.
  4. Direct your attention to your breathing. Use gatha. “Gatha” is a short verse to help you concentrate during meditation, for example: on the inhale say “I have come,” on the exhale say “I am home,” or on the inhale say “I am here,” on the exhale say “and now.” Or you can just count your breaths.
  5. Turn on the “inner observer.” Observe the processes going on inside you. If you are distracted by any thoughts, just go back to observing the breath or gatha.
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Meditation Under a Backpack

Working with concentration in motion is easier than meditating in a static posture. You won’t get your legs stiff, you won’t fall asleep, and it’s easier to make time for dynamic meditation in your busy hiking schedule – you’re on the move for several hours every day.

How to Meditate

  1. Choose a relatively flat trail, possible with a slight upward or downward slope, but necessarily with a good view of the nearest 4-5 meters. Ask the instructor in advance if there will be such a trail today. Start dynamic meditation on hikes without backpacks.
  2. Combine your breathing with your steps. Take a breath for two or three steps, an exhalation longer than the inhalation. Try to breathe through your nose. Find a rhythm to your breathing that doesn’t make you gasp.
  3. Use the gatha (“I came – I’m home”) or count the inhales and exhales in reverse order, starting at 50. Notice on which breaths you are distracted from your meditation, but don’t scold yourself, just start counting again.
  4. Turn on your “inner observer,” pay attention to:
  • Physical sensations (how your foot touches the ground, how your muscles work when you walk, the touch of your clothes against your body, the weight of your backpack on your shoulders, the wind blowing or raindrops on your face).
  • Sounds (birdsong, rustling leaves, group conversations, heartbeat).
  • Visual objects (outlines of mountains, the horizon line, the backpack of the person ahead of us).
  • Emotions (calm, irritation, tiredness, or pleasure).
  1. Return to observing your breathing and gatha.
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