Meditation is often understood as something done only on a mat or in a chair. And that is a big part of it, but I wanted to remind readers that many of my meditations over the past several months have come in the form of mindful adventures.
Beginning this past spring, I began trying to get back into the wilderness (hiking or sometimes just walking in woods, camping, etc.), This began as a response to Scott Stillman’s book Wilderness. which asks the reader to rekindle their relationship back to the natural world (getting away from the noisy and often chaotic world in which many of us live).
Now I’m not proposing that one run out to REI and drop $1000 on camping equipment. Nor am I trying to persuade you to sign up for the next 7-day canoeing trip at the Boundary Waters. You don’t have to have an extra grand or spend 7 nights on a cot to have a mindful adventure.
For me, getting outside and away from all the noise (traffic, cityscapes, etc.) is my idea of a mindful adventure. Just taking a walk on a short trail in your town qualifies in my book. Want to “up the ante?” Buy a state park permit ($25 in WI) that allows you to park at and hike all state trails. It’s amazing what solitude you can find by simply walking out on a trail for one mile. Importantly, walk the trails with the mind of a child. Enjoy and bring curiosity to all you see out on the trail (as if seeing them for the first time ever). And don’t worry about your pace (unless bad weather or darkness is approaching).
Camping has also brought me the solitude I seek in my mindful adventures. I love sitting outside by a fire in the wilderness. Again, you don’t have to travel 1200 miles to the Rocky Mountains to enjoy a campfire, wilderness or solitude. Some of the pictures above were taken from a campsite in East Troy, WI, which is 15 miles from my home in southern WI. And let’s face it, I’m no young buck anymore. When I use the word “camping,” I mean spending the night in a really big tent that affords me a lot of extra space (I can stand up in my tent) and I sleep on a cot with a thick sleeping pad that basically functions as a mattress. I definitely wouldn’t say I’m “roughing it.” And as far as campfires, you don’t have to be in the wilderness. Create a space in your backyard or porch (safety first!) and spend some time gazing into the flames (NOT your cellphone). Again, the point is to purposefully insert me into a level of solitude and out of my normal busy, everyday life.