Hiking as spiritual practice..and oh yes I am getting a tan

Many days of sun. A weekend full of sun. That’s right, all the vitamin D we can eat. Sun is rare in Kodiak, so I’ve been out hiking, tramping around and around in some of the most beautiful spaces on God’s green earth. It makes me very thankful to be alive. I’m very grateful.

Being surrounded by the wonders of the natural world is an important spiritual practice for me. I’ve known that for quite some time, but for some reason it doesn’t quite stick. Yet the truth remains that I feel centered in my soul – and I am typically at peace – when I finish a long hike or walk in the outdoors or when I run. I am a mental type, and physical activity takes me out of my mind, connecting me with the physical world and my physical body. Even as I type, I’m thinking to myself, “Self, perhaps you need to prioritize physical activity as part of your spiritual practice. Skip meditation and prayer some morning and just go for a walk, a run, or a hike.”

I suppose one reason that I have had a difficult time in converting my mind into believing that physical activity in the natural world is a spiritual practice is due to the fact that, in the past, physical activity (like “working out”) has been associated with “getting in shape” or with “being healthy.” These are good things, of course, but they do not necessarily qualify as “spiritual practices.” (Am I using too many “quotation marks” in this post?) More and more, I want to make the connection between exercise in the natural world and spiritual practice. So, let the propaganda war on my mind commence.

In other news….I have to admit that after nearly four months of blogging, I’m not posting nearly as much as I would have liked. For one thing, we’ve had sketchy internet access. For another, well, ya know, it’s just a challenge to post about personal things (as you know if you’ve read the “My Story” section of the blog). I’m determined to press on, though. I’ve committed to personal blogging in 2011, so come hell or high water, Immagonnadoit! We’ll see how blogging goes this summer, though. I will be fishing on a remote island with limited internet access for 3 months. I’ve just set it up so that I can post via email, so perhaps that will be my ticket both to more blogging and to keeping up with the blog this summer.

P.S. Am very excited for fishing this summer and the big move to Tempe. Many exciting things happening in the future, even though I am saddened at the thought of leaving Kodiak.

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

3 thoughts on “Hiking as spiritual practice..and oh yes I am getting a tan”

  1. Hooray for the idea of skipping meditation sometimes and just going for a walk! That is a fantastic idea for you, m’love.


  2. ha ha. Getting a kick out of Tamie’s comment as Jon. If nobody else says anything, it’s nice when we at least agree with ourselves.

    Now then, I say that walking can surely be a meditative endeavor, though I am not a meditation expert. I have been awakened more by literal walks than by many a so-called spiritual activity (alluded to in my blog title).

    Glad y’all are seeing the sun.


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