Those who know me well know that I am an avid hiker. There are few places that I can think of that afford me the peace of mind and clarity that come with being tucked away on a mountainside for hours. Oftentimes I would eke out a place overlooking the city, finding refuge atop a cool rock and close my eyes.
At first, I found it difficult to relax. There were always sounds; a blaring siren, airplanes roaring overhead, and jarring horns. I never realized how loud these noises truly were until I was nowhere near them and could still hear them.
So I went further out into the wilds. My brain wanders more during my hikes than anytime else. Perhaps it is the mountains way of clearing my mind. A constant stream of thoughts and responses whiz around in my head until I become desensitized to the constant barrage of ideas and thoughts and concerns.
My muscles ache when I finally get to my overlook. It is different here. The only thing one can hear are the sounds of birds and the wind rushing through the dried out grass. The rock is cool as I cross my legs and after I make myself comfortable I fold my arms and I close my eyes.
I won’t say that I am good at meditating. However, after a few deep breaths I begin to notice a change in my vision. I open my eyes after several minutes of darkness to find that my surroundings look a bit more blue than usual. Perhaps this is because the sunlight against my eyelids glows orange so naturally, the opposite color would be blue. It takes a few moments for the color to return but I often close my eyes earlier.
I eventually reach a place where my general energy seems to have slowed down to such a point to where I no longer feel as if I exist at that moment on the rock, if that makes any sense. Like I have become an observer to how this particular environment is without anyone watching it. Almost as if anything that could judge or create thought about what I am seeing has stepped back and I can merely observe something for how it truly is. I become aware that only thought in my mind is that there is no thought in my mind.
This emptiness scared me, at first. However, with each outing it became easier and faster to reach that frame of mind. It scares me, to some extent. Things that once held value to me suddenly did not matter. Most of the problems that once held so much power over me dissipated, as if my position as an observer allowed me to see a bigger picture that was once invisible to me.
There is a deep humility that comes over you when you are out in nature. I value this the most. Carl Jung once said that the first half of our lives are dedicated to building a healthy ego and the other half is learning to let it go. I mean, I’m only 28 but I kind of like the idea of getting back to where I belong a little sooner.
Back to the trees. To the rocks. To the grass. To the mountains. To the wind.
Back to my Self.