by Nancy Murray
Recently, I was lucky enough to spend a weekend hiking in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. I love to hike as I am nurtured by being outside and I love to move. I have logged many miles in many different places, and each trip brings a different flavor. When I walk with friends or close family members, I feel complete connection, both to nature and to those I am with. Other times, I might be leading a group and am more concerned with the group’s safety and experience.
On this occasion, I was hiking with my husband, Hugh. We had been together for many miles, and my mind was able to slip into a meditative place. I noticed how hiking is so much like moving through life: some challenges, some easy parts with amazing beauty at every step if I just chose to pay attention. Also, if I simply settled down to notice, the path was so beautifully marked. Nothing to worry about, everything taken care of.
I was leading, as my pace is slower than Hugh’s, and he doesn’t mind going whatever pace I do but doesn’t want to leave me behind. This particular path was clearly marked by little arrows pointing the way – unlike most paths I have walked that require one to look carefully for painted blazes on trees or stacks of rocks above the tree line. As I was flowing up and down along this path, my mind in the zone, I looked up and laughed. In front of me was the funniest trail marking I had ever seen. One arrow going one way, the other pointing the other, so that it truly looked like we were being told to just stand still. What to do?
Well, just like when flowing through life when guidance is unclear, we stopped and we breathed. Slowly going up to the signs, it became clear that one set of arrows was for me and the other was simply for the people going the other way on the path. So, we continued on, the path leading us to more beauty and adventure.
Nancy Murray is the founding board chair and senior faculty at Copper Beech Institute, the nation’s newest retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 40 transformational retreats and courses, as well as mindfulness practice and mindfulness at work offerings to help you awaken to the beauty of your life.
If you are interested in being in nature as a spiritual practice, consider attending a hiking retreat with Mark Kutolowski , Earth and Spirit: Engaging with Nature as a Spiritual Practice, on October 23-25, 2015.