Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Quiet Time on the Trail

Have you ever tried hiking in intentional silence? 

Whether you meditate or not, taking that intention out into the woods or mountains is a powerful sensory experience. I guarantee you'll notice your surroundings with a sharper focus.

Every few months I lead a silent meditation hike somewhere out in the Cascade foothills within an hour or two of Seattle. 

We talk and laugh on the ride out and back, and sometimes stop for a snack afterwards. But when we start hiking, for the next few hours we refrain from conversation. 

Often we're wrapped up in our thoughts, but everyone is encouraged to just walk and take it all in as we go.

This past Sunday we were out hiking in silence on what was forecasted to be a blustery, wet afternoon. I considered cancelling, but everyone was game so we went anyway. Surprisingly it was calm and precipitation-free.

Where did we go?

Well...I seek trails that will be as quiet and uncrowded as possible relatively close to Seattle. So that means not divulging said uncrowded trails.

But it's beautiful and especially vivid without the distractions of smartphones and talking.

Every 30 minutes, we stop and sit beside the trail for about 10 minutes. Maybe we'll quietly nibble on snacks, sip water, put on bug juice, adjust our layers. But we sit without talking.

And get up and do it again.

And then sit again.

 And walk again. 

Just five minutes from the trailhead at the end of our hike, RIBBET RIBBET echoes through the surrounding forest. Tree frog.

Lush green moss-draped forest, sometimes muddy trail, gently flowing streams, slick wet stepping stone rocks, a slight breeze rustling vine maple leaves, resting on my sit pad on a damp log... all my senses are engaged.

Almost three hours after starting, we emerge from the forest surprisingly refreshed. At least that's how I feel afterwards. 

Consider joining us in the months ahead if you're in the Puget Sound region (link below). We try to go year-round, depending on the weather. Or try a hike with friends/family and make a pact to not talk for all or part of the hike.

You might be surprised what you notice.

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! And bonus points if you recognize the trail from the shots above. :)

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 When You Go 
Here's a link to the Blue Heron Zen calendar. The next hike isn't scheduled yet, but check back. I'm hoping to get something on the calendar for late October/early November. Forecasts are for a dry autumn 2015 here in the Pacific Northwest.


JoJo said...

It would be fun but a three hour hike would do me in. I'm definitely a shorter time/distance hiking person.

jill said...

Hey JoJo, Even a 30-minute walk is nice! Timing doesn't really matter. :)

Laura said...

What a lovely idea. I did something similar at a summer camp in the Leavenworth area years ago, and remember it very fondly. The peace of listening to the quiet of the woods is a wonderful thing!

jill said...

Thanks Laura, yes it's special to be quiet in the woods.

ashley g said...

How lovely. I love the idea of hiking in silence with others. What a powerful and unique bonding experience both with nature and your fellow hikers.