Finding Peace Through Walking Meditation – Backcountry Style

May 4, 2022 /in /by Natasha Gilfoy

When we think of safety, we quickly focus on physical safety; however, it also includes our mental health. In 2019, I was going through one of those monumental shifts in life; I was working in the Bow Valley but was in Drumheller one weekend visiting my folks. While on the back porch chatting with my father, he offered a candid bit of advice, “Elise, enjoy the time you have living in the mountains, you don’t know how long your time there will last”. I doubt he realized the profound impact his words would have in that moment as my time in the Bow Valley would be short-lived, but the idea resonated with me. What better way to find oneself than to lose oneself (figuratively) amongst the mountains? Eventually I would come to understand, with the help of therapy and self reflection, that “losing” myself in the backcountry would be a form of walking meditation – each step forward, a prompt to be mindful and calm the inward chatter.

Elise’s Tips and Tricks on How to Enjoy a Walking Meditation:

  • Start small: find a 5-minute guided meditation online and test it out on a walking trail nearby
  • Then strap 20lbs of belongings to your back and find a mountain to trudge up (KIDDING! You do you!)
  • When in doubt or when the trail gets tough, find something to be grateful for and repeat the following, “The sun, breeze, granola bar, etc. (whatever is getting you through the tough patch) is a little blessing”. Sounds silly, but it works.
  • Stop and take in an “appreciation moment”; look at your surroundings, take a picture of a pretty wildflower, feel the sun on your skin.

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By Elise Martin, Dip.

Vegetation Ecologist