A silent hike is about the senses. That’s how we know the world, our senses: by sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and thinking about the world, which is how we process what the senses tell us. Thinking about the world is where we spend most of our time, it seems. That leads us to thinking we’re all up in our heads only, and often ignoring where we are, and our senses, and even our bodies. A silent hike gives you a chance to get into all your senses, into your body and heart; as well as your mind.
A silent hike is also about remembering we are on a planet. That’s why I like to do a silent hike in the morning and as close to dawn as possible. Nothing lets you know you are on a planet like witnessing daybreak, as the planet slowly rolls towards the sun. The stars blink out and the bird chorus begins. A silent hike allows you to witness as much life as possible, because we aren’t scaring away our animal neighbors with our voices. They have senses to tell them about the world, and the here and now as well. During a silent hike, we’ll do what we can to witness all we can. We do this to further wake up ourselves to the here and now. Each bird call, shuffle in the grass, everything you sense is calling you to wake up.
Plus, as countless articles are now letting us know, getting outside and in to nature is good for you. People these days have a nature deficit disorder. Forest bathing is healthy. Walking is healthy. Let’s get outside.
But a silent hike isn’t all about quiet and walking. We’ll be headed to a destination. I try to keep the hikes to about a mile to a mile and a half, one way. Once there, we’ll find a place to meditate, for around twenty minutes. No particular lineage or technique is mandatory, all are welcome. People new to meditation are welcome. People with a long history of practice are welcome, and people with no interest to meditate are welcome as well. Maybe you’re only interested in a silent hike, or maybe you practice Miksang, or you’re looking to take photos but want to go with a group. You, too, are welcome. Just be respectful to those meditating, and stay close so we can all go together. When we do return, after meditating, we can go as loud as we want.
If you want to go on a silent hike to meditate, you’ll want to take something to sit on. I travel with a towel, and usually find an incline or a rock to meditate on. I usually look for a view, or I’m near water, or a grove of trees. You have to carry it, so bring what you want. You should know that there will be bugs, gnats, and possibly even mosquitoes. Well, there will be everything possible for where we are. We’ll be outside in the world, and everything annoying, neutral or delightful is part of the practice.
If you want to get on a mailing list to learn about silent hikes, let me know. We may do some camping, and traveling this year. We’ll see what we can build together.