Mindfulness, for those who haven’t quite kept up with the beanie-wearing latte crowd, essentially involves putting down your devices, putting away your map, sitting in one place and allowing your mind a ‘reset’: to quieten and to put everything in the right folders so you can start the day anew.
It’s useful if you find your mind likes to bounce around, finding answers with difficulty because there’s just too much going on. It’s also a good tonic for anxiety or depression, or even that strange ‘autopilot, dreaming through life’ feeling which can even reach us on the trail.
So here’s how to get started with a little 5 minute practice for the trail, the office, or even your brekky table:
Find a comfortable place to sit, perhaps with a pillow (or raised bit of ground) under your rear end to help keep your spine straight and avoid slouching. You do what feels good for you (though sitting up helps to keep you alert).
Keep your eyes open and take 5 deep breaths - in through the nose and out through the mouth, focusing lightly on how your body softens with each exhalation.
On the 5th breath close your eyes and begin to breath just through your nose. Listen for sounds near and sounds far away, smell for individual scents around you, taste what you can, feel the weight of your body. When you feel you’ve done that for a few minutes and you’re feeling comfy as a connected part of your surroundings, begin to just focus on the breath.
Focus just on your breath now - patiently without trying to change it, for a few minutes. In-out, in-out etc. Let thoughts and feelings come and go unchanged- you can deal with them later on. They don’t need to be thought about now.
Sit like this for as long as feels good and when you get bored and fidgety, bring the attention back to your body, your senses (what's going on around you?) , then gently open your eyes. Sit for a moment to appreciate how you feel, and be clear on where you’re going next. It’s good to try for a smooth transition from the exercise to real life.
Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
For further challenge try to push a minute past your fidgety stage each time until you can sit for 20 minutes.
Further info: There’s lots of great apps for meditation. This writer learnt with the Headspace App, (they recommend), or there’s a bunch of others- just do some googling to see what’s around. There’s also mindfulness courses available in most cities. Mostly though it’s just about stepping back and remembering where you are and why it’s special. so good luck and happy trails!