I’m a hiker. And not because I’m a super can’t-NOT-work-out kind of person but because I know exercise is good for me, and hiking is like walking and getting to check out nature while you’re at it. Win win.
If I’m not hiking with a friend, I usually have my ear buds firmly in place and am either blasting music or my latest favorite podcast (This American Life anyone?). A while back, I had the good fortune to be hiking in Telluride Colorado. If you haven’t been there, it’s the cutest little quaint town in a box canyon that hosts SEVERAL festivals all year long. So, although it’s a small town, it was bustling with thousands of people.
Taking the word of a charming local I met, I started up a mountain I was assured would be peaceful and not crowded. I was happily heaving uphill and relishing the fact I’d not seen a soul in the last 45 minutes, when it dawned on me… I had not seen ONE person in almost an hour. I was suddenly EXTREMELY aware of Mother Nature and all that surrounded me. I’m a California girl and I’ve been on hikes where I’ve seen snakes and coyotes but I’m usually near other people when I see these things and, you know, safety in numbers and all that. But I was in Colorado, where there are BEARS. I realized I should take my ear buds out and be on the listen for anything while I was hiking from here on out.
It was extremely quiet. More quiet than I can ever remember experiencing during daylight. At first I was uncomfortable. The silence made my mind louder. I started thinking of all my to-do’s and wondering about my future and quite honestly, I kind of started to panic a little. I stopped for a minute, took some deep breaths (which is no small feat at 10,000 feet above sea level) and started to relax.
I continued up to the top of the mountain, took my “I didn’t get eaten by a bear” selfie, and headed back to town the way I’d come. By the time I was hiking down the mountain, I’d become used to the silence and felt like it was a friend I was going to miss when I got back into town.
I’ve since begun to meditate. There was (and still sometimes is) a similar experience to my Telluride one, in that my mind wanders and sometimes it’s louder than the silence but when I breathe, it helps. And I’ve come to enjoy my new friend.
What do you do to be quiet? The more tips the merrier. Tell me on my Facebook page!
“I didn’t get eaten by a bear” selfie