Reflecting on over 400 km of hiking in the Himalayas I came to understand the meditative state of hiking in nature. I had been recovering from a traumatic event in my life a year earlier. When we
undertook the hiking in Nepal I thought I would be engaged in the nature around me. Forgetting the world inside. However, The more we hiked the more I felt that “in the vastness of the Himalayas I became completely inward”.
The mind plays an interesting part in our lives. Most people might think that it defines us but the reality is that the ‘self’ and ‘mind’ are separate.
When you take part in multi day hikes you spend many hours conversing with your mind. Mark Twain , Henry David Thoreau , John Muir and many more have all mentioned this in their writings. We all think that in nature we will be engaged in the outer world but the reality is that we become very inward.
My personal experience revealed two parts to hiking. When the trail was easy and straight my legs would be on autopilot and my ‘self’ and ‘mind’ would be completely engaged. I battled many demons, painful thoughts and unresolved issues in my past. My ‘mind’ would bring them up. My ‘self’ would try to resolve. It was an on-going battle. Quite honestly at times difficult but overall a beautiful dance between the two. When you are in the moment you do not realise what is happening. I believe this is something that is healthy and required. I was able to witness what was troubling me deep inside and slowly deal with it. Come to accept it and move on. And on the other side, many beautiful memories would come up and I would play with those thoughts. It goes both ways. It all depends on your state of being.
Then there is the hiking that is strenuous and tough. It is these times that you are completely in the now. Many zen masters use the word ‘Satori’ to describe a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. I completely felt this on the days that the trekking was tough. You are completely present. You feel every part of your body. You feel and smell everything around you. It is an absolute beautiful experience.
When people now ask me why do you go to such extents to trek to difficult places, I now know what to say…. “its because it makes me feel alive and in the now.”