Why I Endure and Enjoy Long Walks in Nature? Here are 10 Reasons to go outdoors:
1. To clear my mind. Taking long walks is my kind of meditation—my alternative to yoga. Wasn’t meditation supposed to be sitting in lotus position, closing your eyes, and undergo an awareness process to activate your chakras? You probably haven’t heard of ‘walking meditation’. Since one of the goals of meditation is to be fully present in the moment — walking in natural environments actually allows me to pay attention to the present moment. Thus hiking is also a mindfulness exercise.
2. To take a breath of fresh air, literally. I live in a city with polluted air and in a work location where you run across people taking smoke-breaks a lot of times—I do not smoke cigarette but I am a heavy passive smoker. (Sad fact is that secondhand smokers’ health are much more affected compared to active smokers.) Going outdoors give my lungs a break.
3. To filter the noise. My work is client facing so I’m always talking or chatting to someone and rarely do I hear silence in an open-office space (there’s always this keyboard noise and people talking loud). So I always look forward to weekend hikes—a chance to listen to the wind, the river currents, the birds, to the stories and laughter of my friends. Sometimes listening to the wind makes more sense to me.
4. To adopt the pace of nature. I’m always in a hurry to work or to school and I want to slow down for a while. Except in the case of being stuck in slow traffic—I had never been more patient before with the city’s horrible traffic. Walking in nature allows me to slow down and enjoy the trail; to take notice of the surroundings; to take beautiful pictures; or smell the wildflowers.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. To enjoy a wider space. Sitting on a cubicle desk for 8 hours on weekdays is a pain in the butt. During my one hour lunch break at work before, I took the opportunity to have a 7-min walk to another building just to get an open space. Going outdoors provides me more space to walk, breathe and think.
6. To have a digital detox. I am always navigating the cyberspace and oftentimes I find myself engaging in social media that I needed a break from it. Deactivating my facebook account gives me a breather from today’s opinionated social media world and disconnecting from the internet allows me not to care about emails tagged as high priority even though they don’t really deserve urgent attention. And a lot more distracting things the internet brings.
Anyway, I set an exemption when it comes to ‘digital’ detox. I still cannot avoid taking out my ‘digital’ camera to take photos of anything that interest me during our hike; at least it has no wi-fi feature. (I love taking photos; it speaks a thousand words).
7. To stay fit. Hiking helps burn more calories. To endure long walks I keep myself fit by eating ‘real’ foods and by getting enough sleep and exercise.
8. To break from the routine. Once in a while I take time to break from my daily routine by visiting new places. This way I can return to my day-to-day refreshed and more focused.
9. To learn more about myself and others. I’ve learned a great deal about myself like I was too materialistic. I hated myself for buying too many pretty things that I do not use often. During our hikes, I met locals from remote places who never owned any watch or pretty clothes but they have a more pleasant disposition. They don’t own a lot of things and yet they have a more positive outlook.
10. To simply appreciate life. Being privileged to enjoy the greater outdoors and the simple pleasures in life is what I’m truly grateful for. It made me look forward to upcoming adventures and misadventures because it leads to surprising detours.
Okay, that was long… I’m looking forward to the next nature trip, don’t you too?