As I walked across the third field of what would turn out to be many I felt a tiny twinge of ache in my lower back. We had, for sure, almost walked 3 miles, and, for sure, we still had nearly another 2 miles to go, and here we were, out in the middle of no-where, no way to send Walt to get the car and pick me up, no way to magically transplant myself from said field into a nice, cosy pub, nope, I just had to keep on trekking.
And trekking I did. Each foot placed deliberately in front of the other, each step timed with my breath, in, out, step, step, in, out, step, step. Every crunch of grass and leaves under foot, each squelch and slip in mud as I scoured river banks, each hoist of my body over stiles, every second becoming clearer, crisper, closer to the present.
Hiking really has taught me to be in the present, and being in the present, with the moment, standing in each second is really one of the most precious gifts you can ever be given. You see, when you are in the present all else ceases to exist, all there is is you, your breath, and the job you have at hand.
There is an old Zen proverb - "Chop Wood, Carry Water."
You do what you do in that moment wholeheartedly and with purpose, and when you approach life this way it is amazing how less stressed you feel, how focused you become, how much more you actually achieve.
So what process in being present has hiking taught me and how can you enact it in your own life?
1. Breath - focus on your breath, always be aware of it, the inhale and exhale, big, deep, in-time breaths that take you from second to second. Focusing on breathing - through your nose - eases away anxiety, lowers your heart-rate, and helps to regulate your oxygen flow. When you focus on the breath you realise that that is all there is, nothing happens when you breathe, other then you breathe, simples!
2. Observe - Through focusing on the breath you are observing that moment, but expand this out to that entire moment, without clinging to it, but going with the flow. Feeling that breeze on the back of your arms, smell the flowers that line the path, hear the sheep bleating in the fields, and see the way the sun glints on the grass, but also notice as these change, subtly and with purpose. That is you observing life in that moment, and the aim is to try and do this during every moment, everyday, cooking dinner, see the steam rise off the vegetables, smell the spices as they bubble away in the pot, hear the clang of the spoon as is hits the saucepan edge ... But remember to go with the flow, not to stay in any particular moment, but move on ... just, observe.
3. And ... Breathe again - always take your focus back to the breath. whether you are hiking, cooking dinner, writing a report, in a meeting, maintain the breath and there will be focus, letting go, being present, and truth.
It is a cycle process, a gentle reminder through each moment that you are in the present, that you are in that moment what you are, and that through this you can achieve much and more. Embrace the cycle of breathe and observe and your purpose will emerge and what is to be done will be done, no stress, no anxiety, just flow.
Anymore thoughts, comment below ...