The vast array of psychological and physical advantages that hiking offers has been well documented in recent years. But, did you know that hiking also has a deep selection of spiritual benefits that can improve your emotional wellbeing?
Well, if you didn’t already know, hiking is a great way to reconnect with your spiritual side. It is a mindful activity that acts as ‘soup for the soul’ and can help you see life from a healthy prospective.
In order to help you understand the thoughts and feelings that can come from spending time on the trail, we’ve listed the top 5 spiritual benefits of hiking. Our aim is to help you see how spending time in the outdoors can feed your mind and nourish your soul.
Hiking gives you a break from modern life.
The modern world of desks, phones, cars and pavements is incredibly different to our natural environment. Technology has immense benefits, but it’s also thrust our civilization into an unnatural world that is vastly different to our ‘cave dwelling’ history.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stimulation that we experience on a daily basis. It can make life feel like a rat race. It can make you worry about miniscule problems and forget about the bigger picture.
Spirituality can be hard to come by when you’re in the midst of modern life. However, escaping the concrete and getting into the outdoors can give you the separation required to re-evaluate your prospective.
Hiking gives you the opportunity to experience the natural world that has become so alien to many. It gives you a sense of being connected to your emotions without distractions and ponder life’s biggest questions the way our ancestors intended.
Hiking helps you get in touch with nature.
The UN has estimated that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. That’s a large number of people that are growing increasingly detached from the natural world.
Hiking is famed as one of the best ways to reconnect with nature. It gives you the freedom to ‘smell the roses’, soak in the sights and feel at one with the earth.
The feeling of scrambling up a mountain or trekking up a hill can remind you of how challenging nature can feel. It will remind you of how small we really are in the grand scheme of life and how negligible our daily struggles might be.
Being at one with the natural world can free the spiritual and emotional side that’s embedded in every individual. Feeling the wind on your face, the sun in your eyes and the dirt under your feet can go a long way to rediscovering your natural instincts.
Hiking gives you a chance to be mindful.
The world that most of us live in is full of distractions. Internet, smartphones, TVs, video games and advertising are constantly drawing our attention to the materialistic world.
It’s easy to get swept up in the constant mental pull of technology. It’s easy to allow the incessant stimulation deflect your attention away from your mind and into a superficial existence.
Hiking is a great way to spend time with your thoughts. It removes the distractions that plague our existence and gives you a chance to enjoy the moment.
Living in a world that’s designed to make you constantly desire ‘the next big thing’ makes mindfulness increasingly difficult. But once you reach the trailhead; you can escape the judgement and fear that’s been clouding your mind to become intensely aware of how you really feel in the moment.
Hiking breaks your routine.
Many of us fall into the pattern of monotony that seems to be ‘part and parcel’ of modern life. Driving the same route to work at the same time every day. Sitting at the same desk, looking at the same computer, eating in the same canteen.
It’s easy to find yourself in a rut that you may not even realise you’re in. ‘Life goes faster when you’re in routine’, a wise saying goes. Blink and you’ll miss it.
So what’s the problem with routine? Well for one, it can make you forget about spirituality. Working your way through the same set of automated actions, day in day out, is a great way to relinquish original thoughts and feelings.
So what’s one of the best ways to break your routine? Hiking! (of course).
Getting away from the robotic nature of life will give you the jolt of novelty required for honest thoughts and ideas. It’s in this environment that you can remember who you are, what you like, what you dislike and how you feel about these emotions. It will make you feel spiritual.
Hiking gives you peace and quiet.
Let me ask you a question: When was the last time you had genuine peace and quiet for a prolonged period of time. No television, no music, no voices and no car engines. For many, it was probably a long time ago…
Escaping the noise pollution can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, it’s absolutely vital if you want to improve the relationship you have with your mind and soul.
One of the top spiritual benefits of hiking lies in its ability to give you some thinking space. It provides a peaceful environment that is free from the manufactured sounds that are a constant barrier to achieving a genuine spiritual experience.
Hearing the sound of the wind, the falling of a leaf or the chirp of a bird is something rarely experienced by modern ‘city dwelling folk’. Anyone that’s missing out on the joys of hearing these sounds could be missing out on a fundamental spiritual experience that hiking can provide.
Thoughts From The Author
Getting in touch with your spiritual side might hold the key to living a happy, productive and fruitful existence. It can give you the freedom to view an honest and unfiltered prospective of your genuine thoughts and feelings.
The spiritual benefits of hiking should never be overlooked. Many choose to focus on the psychological and physical aspects, but its affect on the soul might just be the most important.
My advice is to spend some alone time on the trail and see if your spiritual side blossoms. Leave the screen at home, don’t wear headphones, and don’t associate with the modern world. Just think, feel and observe.
You might be amazed by the results that a simple hike can yield for your personal life and beyond. In fact, I’m pretty sure you will be.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.