Why Practice Mindful Hiking?
Mindfulness, put simply, is the secular practice of bringing one’s attention back to the present moment. Oftentimes we go through our entire day distracted by our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We fail to achieve an understanding of our experience and the world around us. Mindfulness training helps to separate oneself from stress, negative thoughts, and other bodily sensations that may be overwhelming. These experiences are observed and accepted without judgment.
“The present is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Today’s youth are experiencing an anxiety epidemic. A recent Pew survey found that 70% of teens say that anxiety and depression is a ‘major problem’ among their peers. Young people with FASD, PTSD, Autism, ODD, and ADHD commonly report suffering from anxiety on a regular basis.
Young people are also finding themselves so disconnected with nature that the term “nature deficit disorder” has been coined to describe the problem. This disconnection with the natural world has led to increased psychological growth and development problems. Kids desperately need to get outside again.
In recent years, interest in mindfulness has soared and so has research into mindfulness meditation. Studies show that mindfulness meditation provides benefits against an array of physical and mental problems – in particular anxiety, depression and PTSD.
Regular mindful hikes provide both physical and mental benefits of mindfulness meditation and simple interaction with nature. Benefits of mindful hikes include stress reduction, reduced emotional reactivity, improved communication skills, new self-observation skills, empathy development, decreased anxiety, and a better quality of life.