Enjoying a hike in Mpumalanga, out in nature with friends, is always a pleasure.  Often we are so engrossed in conversation that we miss the little important things that nature has to offer us.  Mindful hiking is literally remembering to stop and look around you ever now and then. 

Touch the grass or flowers, look into the leaves of the trees and just take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh air.

Few of us realise it, but as we get older we tend to spend more time indoors and less time in nature.  A slow hike has great restorative powers which is just one reason why getting out is good for you.  Being in the great outdoors will definitely increase your sense of well-being and help to alleviate stress or anxiety while also aiding in the recovery from mental fatigue.  And when you turn your normal hike into a mindful one you will get back in touch with your five senses again, truly experiencing vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

How to get back in touch with each sense using mindful hiking

As humans we rush between activities and the result is stress and tension.  So, before you start your hike, stop and take a few deep breaths and look around yourself.  Absorb your surroundings.  Be present in the moment.  Make a conscious effort to engage your senses and connect with your surroundings.

  • Look

Along the hike, stop and slowly do a 360 degree turn.  Consciously engage your sense of sight.  Look up! See the blue sky and if there are clouds about, take note of their shapes.  Take a detailed look at the trees around you.  Take note of the shape of the different trees, their colours and their leaves.  If possible sit or lie down and let go of yourself in the moment.

  • Listen

While you stopped consciously engage your sense of hearing.  Tune into the sounds around you.  Nature is full of sounds, from the winds in the trees to the bees on the flowers or buzzing in the grass.  Even if there is not a sound for a moment, listen to the silence and let your body relax .

  • Touch

Feel the sun on your skin and enjoy the feel of the breeze on your face.  Look around you, touch the grass, and if there is a rock absorb the texture of the rock.  Touch different textures along the way and take note of the different textures.  If you stop for lunch, remove your boots and place your feet on the earth.

  • Smell

Along the way, breathe deeply and consciously take note of the different smells.  Depending on where you are hiking you could encounter the smell of a pine tree or maybe the earth itself if there has been recent rain or you close to a water source.  Sometimes in nature smells are subtle, so really concentrate on smells.

The Sound of Silence

As you come to the end of your hike, try walking in silence.  Most of us feel a need to chatter away when in company.  You will find that a shared silence is a wonderful experience.  It’s up to your group to decide how long you wish to walk in silence, usually 30 minutes works well.