Yesterday I went on a hike on one of my favorite trails. I hadn’t been on it much lately, as I had been enjoying the discovery of other trails before winter sets in. But right now, I’m simply trying to ensure that I get in some daily movement as part of a self-care regimen during a personally difficult time.
I’m guessing that I’ve hiked this particular trail at least 50 times—if not twice that number—since I moved to Colorado. I love the convenience of it being within the city limits, free of charge, and the fact that the trail has enough of an incline that it actually feels like a workout. Plus, the scenery is stunning.
It’s actually a system of trails, so I’m able to vary my route each time that I go up there. This is part of why I can hike there several times a week and still feel like it’s a different experience each time.
Because I hadn’t been up there in a few weeks, I was able to marvel at how the trail had changed since my last visit. At this time of year, pine needles are scattered on the ground, and the occasional deciduous trees are mostly barren. Loose gravel is more common now that the first snowfall has occurred, which reminds me to pay attention to where my feet land.
As I was hiking today, I contemplated how my hikes are kind of like my meditations, even when I’m not sitting still with my eyes closed. I have a number of visualization tools that I draw on in meditation, but I don’t use all of them every single day.
If I’m in a rush, I might simply sit for a few minutes and run through a number of tools that I’ve learned, or I might focus on a single one. When I have more time, I’ll sit for quite a while to see what emerges.
Although I use these tools regularly, I still find that the experience with a given tool varies over time. It’s not the same exact experience every day, just as my mood, energy level, and daily routine can fluctuate.
Back to the hiking trail … I stood in one spot and took several photos today with my phone. It’s interesting how a single frame can vary based on where I put the focus.
In the first picture, the sky is fairly accurately portrayed as a deep blue, but the rocks look too dark. The second picture is more representative of the reddish rock coloration, but the sky is way too overexposed.
This third image is a closer depiction of the actual landscape as seen through my eyes, but still not exact. I find it fascinating how, even when we’re standing still and looking straight ahead, our perspective can change based on the filter through which we’re gazing.
The same is true with a sitting meditation practice. Each experience is different, and that’s part of what makes the process so powerful. I love that my relationship to my meditation practice changes over time. Just as the changing seasons impact my external environment, my inner world has its own shifts and transitions. I’m grateful for those shifts, even in the midst of life’s challenges.