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Calming the Fear: A Hiking Meditation

How To Stay in the Moment and Quiet Your Mind

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

Adventures scare me.

The fear isn't born of inexperience; I’ve been exploring the outdoors since I was a kid. I'm not afraid of remote mountain valleys or loner hermits or a cold night under the stars.

This fear is in my head.

Three years ago my body – steadfastly reliable through years of adventures – had a random anaphylactic reaction. No one knows if it will happen again. The threat follows me around like a shadow.

There are many reasons why this is inconvenient. For starters, there is the fear of losing the ability to breathe. But the heaviest burden is the mental strength needed to continue the lifestyle I’ve made my first nature.

Maybe you feel fear when you’re adventuring, too. Perhaps disconnecting makes you anxious, or you’re exploring for the first time. Maybe the quiet of the wilderness fills you with more questions than answers.

I’ve had three years to contemplate ways to quiet the fear. I do a hiking meditation when I'm on the trail to ground me in the present and quiet my mind.

Next time you feel the twinge of anxiety, or simply want to be in the moment, give this exercise a try.

Begin by taking five breaths. They don’t need to be deep breaths, but pay attention and count them.

Next, focus on your body. Name, in your head or aloud, five things you can feel: the wind on your arms, your hips in your hip sockets, the backpack on your shoulders.

Next, turn your attention to sounds. Name five things you can hear: the crunch of dirt under your feet, the call of birds, the breathing of your hiking partner.

Next, look around you. Name five things you can see: the blueness of the sky, the streak of mud on your leg, the wagging tail of your dog.

Take another five breaths.

Repeat this sequence for as many times as it takes to calm your mind. Practice gratitude for the moments you have, and let what “could be” fall silent.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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