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Hearts Mark Our Hiking Trail

tree heart

A mild day in mid winter, after a couple snowstorms, feels like the perfect day for a mindful walk. Some call it “walking meditation”, but today, I walk in presence alongside my family.

After we pull into the preserve, gratitude energizes my initial steps–I feel grateful to be outdoors with my two teenage girls. Joining their parents outside on a Saturday afternoon feels as fleeting as this almost 50 degree winter day!

At times, I linger behind to take in nature’s intricacies. I see hearts on the tree trunks marking our meandering trail; one looks as though cupid shot his arrow just in time for Valentine’s Day. As we near the water’s edge, I notice that the lichen grows brighter like the colors of sea glass, and the lacy patterns become more pronounced. They remind me of 1960s mod wallpaper.

Winter WonderTrail
Tree Heart
Lichen Wallpaper

I walk with my eyes down on the trail for a bit, in order to notice the surrounding sounds. The snow crunching rhythmically beneath my boots interrupted by snow mobiles, then sirens, speeding in the distance. While I would have seen them as an interruption to the serenity of this natural space, Buddhist truths have taught me that judgment will only cause me to suffer. Annoyance will hijack my walk. Rather, I practice knowing that all sounds are part of my experience. When I hear giggles from my girls taunting one another, I allow those to become my sole focus.

As we walk along the frozen lake’s edge, I sample some snow. Yup, I eat snow like little kids. It tastes refreshing like a cold glass of water on a summer day. Hold on. Let’s not wish winter away. Summer will be here before you know it. Now is the time to enjoy this pine-scented winter wonderland.

What do I love about mindful walking? It’s the perfect way to get outside, inhale fresh air and remember what’s really important in life. Notice how you feel both before you begin and after this simple activity. Connecting with the five senses takes you out of your overthinking mind and away from your media devices, integrating your whole self. Best of all, sensory experiences wake you up to the present moment. You know, where your life is happening, right now.

Snow Love

Most of us walk without chains, yet we aren’t free. We’re tethered to regret and sorrow from the past. We return to the past and continue to suffer. The past is a prison. But now you have the key to unlock the door and arrive in the present moment. You breathe in, you bring your mind home to your body, you make a step, and you arrive in the here and the now. There is the sunshine, the beautiful trees, and the songs of the birds.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Why not go on a mindful walk? While you’re at it, check out more of my photo finds on @bloom.withbliss on Instagram afterward!