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How Hiking & Trail Running Teach Mindfulness

April 18, 2022 2 min read

Learning to be present on the trail

I used to trip and stumble a lot while I was running, either on an easy trail in a local park or during a mountain race. After many years of blaming my technique or weak ankles, I began thinking back to the biggest falls I had had... And I realized that whenever my mind was far away, I wouldn’t notice that tree root. I would fail to see that protruding rock or I would miss a hole on the trail... You can imagine the rest. I have the scars on my knees to prove it.

Once I began applying the principles of walking meditation to my hikes and, especially, my trail runs, I stopped falling. I found stability and became more agile. In turn, my mind let go of the nagging thoughts that used to distract me on the trail. I can finally reap the benefits of exercising mindfully.

Meditating while hiking and running

If you’ve never considered hiking and running as meditative experiences, start by reading our article on the art of walking meditation. Once you are comfortable with that practice, take it to the next level by applying those concepts on the trail.

Learning to be conscious of every movement involved will develop an awareness of your body and surroundings. Being mindful of where you slowly place your foot might help you notice that small bug crawling nearby or the tiny flower you were about to step on.

The same principles apply to trail running. While you may not be able to slow down your pace, being fully present will increase your focus and ability to tune out unwanted thoughts.

How to engage your senses on the trail

When you’re on the trail, work on activating your senses. Pay attention to the sounds, shapes, scents and textures of nature to give your brain a respite. In fact, studies have shown that simply spending time in a natural setting triggers positive emotions and reduces stress1.

If you enjoy listening to music while hiking or running, replace your favorite tunes with the sounds of nature: your footsteps pounding the ground, the wind rustling leaves, nearby waterways or wildlife making their presence known.

Once you’ve picked up on the sounds around you, observe the trail, the vegetation and every detail that catches your eye. Avoid getting your phone out to take a photo and, instead, stay in the moment.

If you’re having a hard time unplugging from technology or silencing your thoughts, take a deep breath and inhale the clean, fresh air. Try to identify the aromas of nature – it’s free aromatherapy!

Our connection to nature has never been more important. In the past couple of years we’ve learned to value not just being outside but being in nature. What’s more, the links between spending time outdoors, moving our bodies and mindfulness have been proven to improve our mental health.

Next time you’re on the trail, try it for yourself!

Aimeé Durán Triujeque l Mukha Yoga Writer
By Aimeé Durán Triujeque; All Rights Reserved @2022

Aimeé Durán Triujeque l Mukha Yoga Writer By Aimeé Durán Triujeque; All Rights Reserved @2022