Hiking vibes

Tell me: do you also like forests in autumn, with their colourful foliage? I LOVE them!

This is why I prefer to hike in autumn.

Recently I had the chance to reflect on the impact of hikes on my relational life.

Here is what I want to share with you.

The first relationship that is impacted by my hikes is the one with myself and my emotions. For example, few days ago I was ready for a hike. I felt in good shape, well equipped and motivated. But…

As it often happened in the last years, my fears came to visit me. They were all together: fear to be attacked, fear to be struck by lightning or to fall into a ravine, fear to finish the provisions, etc etc

I realised that my anxiety, that is usually quite high, in those moments explodes like a bomb (another fear, but more related to close spaces like cinemas or subways).

Going back to the hike, my mind started a safety protocol making me think that the worst thing would happen. I perceived my shoulders bending, my ears intercepting every single rustle and my heartbeat rushing like Clint Eastwood in a Sergio Leone movie.

My mind was in the “fight or fly” mode.

Luckily now I know my anxiety so well that I lend it my helping hand. In those moments, I take few deep breaths with my eyes closed to allow my heartbeat to get slower and to become aware of what is happening inside me. Then I let my fear to hold my hand and to walk with me, taking the space it needs to express itself. And it works!

But fear is not the only emotion I interact with during my hikes. There is also impatience, because I want to get to the peak as fast as possible and my stride gets too fast for what I can handle. Or there is anger for being out of shape. But there can also be happiness in front of a landscape o hearing a birdsong.

And the tears in those moments let go all the painful emotions I previously felt.

Another relationship that is impacted by my hikes is the one with my travel companions. If you are not doing a solo hike, like me, you necessarily need to consider other people’s presence. I feel lucky: my hiking mate is also my partner in life. So hikes are good teambuilding activities for us and even in hard times, our relationship gets stronger.

Things are different for bigger groups. For the moment, I was lucky, since our hiking mates have always been always people that shared our values (respect for nature, love for sport, interest in a tasty meal after the hike).

Overall, I feel that hiking with other people teaches you how to live in a community and I see it as extremely positive.

But there is also another relationship that is impacted by my hikes: the one with nature.

After reading great book Questo immenso non sapere from Chandra Candiani, I changed my perspective on forests and I trasformed my fears.

I asked myself how many little animals were living in that forest at that precise moment.

I tuned in: it seemed like being in an airport, there were thousands of sounds!

In coming to our senses, Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote that “usually we don’t realise to be seen and perceived from others, including other living beings in nature. We would know it after spending the night in a tropical forest”.

How could I feel scared and fearful when I was surrounded by all those incredible little beings? The forest then became home, protection. And fears went away. What stayed with me was the fascination for a time, the natural one, that is always happening contemporary to ours.

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature” wrote Rachel Carson in The sense of wonder “the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter”.

And there is something infinitely healing, I add, in reminding us that we are part of a big system. Our planet is huge, there is space for everyone and there cannot be any loneliness, since we are all connected and responsible for each others.

How do you feel when you think about it?

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