My grandparents lived in Milwaukie, OR (a suburb of Portland, OR) for over fifty years in a time before cell phones, the internet and believing that philosophies like Buddhism and mindfulness were akin to witchcraft. Yet, everyday without fail, my grandfather would make an early morning hike along the Johnson Creek for at least an hour and always alone. Occasionally he would take his overly inquisitive grandson but even as a child I intuitively knew that these walks were an abbreviated version of the morning ritual, simply to humor said grandson.
For years, the family joked in speculation as to what exactly grandpa did on these nature hikes. Did he dislike people so much that he needed ‘alone time’ daily? Did he have a stash of whiskey that he hid in the woods? Was he hunting Bigfoot (a joke only those in the Pacific Northwest would appreciate)?
As it turns out, he was intuitively practicing something that Eastern Thought has taught for millennia but the fields of Health and Psychology in the West are just now catching up to…the idea of Mindfulness or what I call, “Meditation in Motion”. Having grown up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I never realized nor appreciated that impact that mindfulness could have. And although there are some great foothills surrounding L.A. to hike, it was only after I moved to Arizona that the practice began to take hold.
For many, still discovering both the physical as well as mental benefits of meditation, practicing a form of meditation in motion can bridge the gap and demonstrate the positive affects of mindfulness in a very tangible way. In order to be affective, however, it’s essential to strip away some of the digital age habits that so many cling to today;
Leave Technology Behind
Find a natural place to hike or walk, like mountains, lakes or streams where you can disconnect from your normal surroundings. Leave the iPod, the Fitbit and other technologies at home. I typically only bring my cellphone for emergencies and put it on silent. Resist the urge to take the selfie and the Facebook photos.
The whole purpose of mindfulness is to focus internally, being alone with one’s thoughts and emotions. That cannot be achieved with the chatty hiking partner who wants to obsess over the feuds at work.
Embrace The Silence
No puns intended with the several songs so named, but the sole purpose is to get meditative, focused. Get quiet, focus on the base senses around you, the sound of your breathing.
For further reading, the recent post in WSJ below creates an excellent connection between the Eastern and Western thoughts around mindfulness.
Source: The Meditation Cure – WSJ