African American Hiking for Spiritual Health
Hiking is gaining popularity within the African-American community. We're beginning to spend more time in nature in an effort to connect deeply with the spirit within. The alertness that is required to observe the natural beauty around us is calming, energizing and edifying. Noticing the colors on the trees, listening to the sounds of the birds, and overlooking scenic landscapes or wonderful bodies of water can heal the soul very profoundly.
To be alone with my private thoughts in the space of my own company is euphoric. Moving at my own pace and experiencing the freedom to take any path that looks interesting or simply stop to relax or read is very liberating. Sometimes I listen to inspirational music, messages of personal growth or a guided meditation on my portable CD player. Other times I just listen to the sound of our beautiful natural world. I always stop to journal when hiking. The insights I get while hiking are rarely achieved during the hustle and bustle of work and family life.
Hiking with a Partner
If you feel uncomfortable hiking alone a partner is a great alternative. You can still get that special time with your own thoughts and feelings by hiking together to a destination, then separating enough to get some private space where you can be alone with your thoughts or listen to some media of your choosing. Agree upon an amount of time for this (a half-hour to an hour is usually good) then re-commune and hike back to the car. Try to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Use this valuable time for spiritual reflection and healing. Give encouragement, love and support to each other every step of the way and hiking with a partner can be powerfully rejuvenating and healing.
Practical Items for Hiking:
Always bring water. And, if you're hiking for more than a couple of miles it's a good idea to bring some food, i.e. sandwiches, trail-mix and/or fruit.
You don't have to invest a lot of money, but a good pair of hiking shoes will make your experience more pleasurable. They absorb the rocks and irregularities of the paths you'll be walking on.
Dress in layers that are easily adjustable for body temperature. Wear a breathable shirt next to your skin, and a jacket with a good zipper for temperature variability.
If you bring a backpack, it should contain the following items:
Water and Food
The most important thing about hiking is your personal space. View it as a mini-retreat.
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