Hiking is an excellent way to get into shape, reduce stress, rejuvenate and get in touch with our base nature.
So many of us enjoy the great outdoors and fit back easily with our ancient ancestry, but are we aware of the components we are missing?
Did you actually see the pine martin in your peripheral vision?
What was that familiar scent? Was it balsam poplar, or did your conscious mind even register it?
Do you recognize that sound the Swainson’s Thrush just made?
In order to truly get the full benefits of being in the outdoors; we need to be in complete sensory awareness.
The Dullness of Our Sensory Awareness
As modern humans, we have much less need to use our senses in their full capacity.
We are no longer at high risk of being caught by a man-eating beast of some sort or having to use our nose to tell us where that deer is hiding and in which grove of trees.
Now our senses have dulled somewhat, with the exception of our primary ones, which differs in each of us. When we use our subsidiary senses, it is often as a full on assault, which we notice instantly as either pleasant or unpleasant.
For example, when we walk past a bakery that has just put out it’s rack of fresh baked goods, or when we open a bottle of ammonia, we are fully aware of the scent.
Other than something that drastically catches our attention, we are seldom consciously mindful of the million bits of information coming to us every second through our other senses!
Make an Intention to Notice More
When we begin to become more sensory aware, wonderful things can happen in our lives.
One of the most treasured places to begin is the outdoors, where peace and tranquility abound.
I have witnessed some incredible transformations happening in people that I have taken out on various holistic hiking trips. It is amazing how much you can see, hear, smell and feel when you open your senses fully.
Suddenly you begin to notice the slightest of movements or a flash of colour in your periphery that you would have not consciously registered otherwise. There seems to be a profusion of wildflowers that were not there on the walk in, and how did that stream get there?
Sometimes we need to teach ourselves how to open our senses. This can take a little time, but remember it is in our genes and with a little practice it will come back.
We were constructed with senses that are not as good as the other animals that live on the planet, however we have been gifted with cognition.
That means, we can use our senses for enjoyment as well as survival, it’s just a matter of bringing them to consciousness.
Playing Games in Nature Helps to Open Your Senses
Just where do we start to try to open the senses?
One way to start is by playing, yup, just like when you were little.
Use some imagination, play I spy with a friend while out on a hike, or see who come up with the most colours, or shades of colour.
Have a contest as to who can detect the most sounds, or scents and try to determine what they are and where they came from.
There are many combinations and there are really no rules!
There are many sensory awareness exercises that I have developed over the years and have used them on clients while out on hikes that range from one hour or five days.
It is always educational and interesting for those who take these tools away with them and then use them for a lifetime.
It’s a matter of experimenting and testing yourself to develop your own exercises, but the most important aspect is to just have fun and with fun comes relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal.
Opening your senses opens you to a whole different world and it’s yours to experience!