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Hiking, mindfulness and other activities

3 May 2021


Hiking, mindfulness and other activities by Rochelle Leslie

It’s a Wednesday night. You’ve just come home from school: you’ve got to finish that assignment you started Monday, begin that other assignment for Friday, call your friend to see if you’re still good to catch up on the weekend, text that other friend to see if they still had that book you let them borrow or was that… Oh no, and tomorrow’s homework sheets you completely forgot about, or are they Friday too? Or was that actually due next week, along wi… Confusion. It’s easy to find ourselves drowning in a sea of it, especially when we are so busy with the happenings in our lives. With commitments to work, education, family and friends, it’s too easy to get lost in our heads, overthinking one thing, forgetting another and feeling like everything’s just plain old overwhelming. It’s at times like these when our place is all over the head that we need to take a step back and relax. It’s at times like these when we need ‘mindfulness’.

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing, while not being overstimulated or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Practicing mindfulness can consist of guided meditation or even just small activities that require your undivided attention. Even just a few minutes a day helps us focus more on our tasks. Mindfulness is about clearing our heads for a moment to focus on a single thing, to unclutter the mess of our overfull minds. Living in a place like Melbourne, where so much is going all the time, it’s important that we sit back every now and then and take a moment to tune in to ourselves. Now, I’m sure that sitting still and meditating isn’t the best mindfulness activity for everyone: in fact, I fall into this category myself. That’s why I go hiking.

Hiking can be a great way to improve fitness and get those good endorphins going, but it’s also a great place to practice your mindfulness. It’s not just about walking from A to B: it’s a chance stop and smell the eucalyptus. When I go hiking with friends, we can escape the bustling suburbs and all their stimulants, spending some time focus on the world around us instead. We take note of where we are in the moment, stopping regularly to soak in the scenery and just be. Whether it’s a four-day hike, a one-day hike or even a few hours ‘hiking’ around a local park with a friend, it is a valid way to practice mindfulness.

Excluding hiking, though, there are endless ways to be mindful, or even just to de-stress. Mostly, it’s about concentration on a single task at hand without any distractions getting in your way. Perhaps you can find this in baking a cake, methodically working your way through ingredient by ingredient and step by step. Even eating food can become a mindfulness activity. You might find it’s been a while since you just sat down and appreciated your food without holding a conversation or using some sort of electronic device at the same time. So try sitting down and focusing only on your food. How it looks, smells, tastes, the texture of different ingredients. Make it the center of your world for five minutes and see how you feel afterwards. It may seem like a strange activity, but it works.