Hiking Tips: A Lesson in Trust

Hiking tips

I love living in L.A. Hiking, running, cycling and playing outdoors are a big part of life on the West Coast. Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park are two of my local favorites. And every hike offers its own moving meditation and a new lesson in self trust. Here are my top five discoveries from recent climbs.

1. Trust Your Body

One of my biggest fears while climbing up the side of a mountain is missing a step and face-planting into a rock. (I actually have the same fear climbing regular stairs.) I like my teeth, I’d like to keep them all. Hopping over logs and tree branches, treading through thick brush or soft sand or tip-toeing over wet rocks can be daunting. And your mind will tell you that you can’t do it and that you shouldn’t. Try anyway. Your body has an amazing auto-response system. Your knees will bend to bring you closer to the ground, your hands will flail out and grasp anything to catch your fall, your core will tense up to keep your balance or brace you for the inevitable fall. This is true in life. Your body gives you signals every single day. Learn to listen to them, sharpen them and trust them. With regular practice, anything can be done with ease.

2. There Are Surprises Around Every Corner

One of the coolest things about nature is that she is always changing. You could hike the same trail every day, and while you may find comfort on a familiar path, you can trust it will never be exactly the same as the last. New flowers and plants will bloom or die, new animals and birds will cross your path, and different people will pass you on your journey. There is always something new to see or discover. Your thoughts will change the course of your journey as well. You can never know quite what to expect. Enjoy life’s surprises and let them lead and inspire you along the way.

3. The Way Down Is Tough

Everyone knows going up hill is hard. Climbing a corporate ladder, starting a business, building a family, isn’t any different. And then, surprise! There’s no rest at the top. You have to work even harder to stay up there. In life, the next challenge is usually the following mountain. But sometimes, you gotta come back down. But how to do it gracefully? Maintaining balance, strength, focus and an open mind on the descent is key — or else you’ll just tumble all the way back down to the bottom. While I haven’t reached that point in my life quite yet, it’s a pretty good metaphor when approaching later years in life. Decline gracefully and never give up!

4. Leave Your Expectations Behind

Nothing is ever exactly what it seems. And rarely does anything ever turn out to be quite what you expected. There have been days when I’ve had a good rest, a good breakfast, I am full of energy and I hit a trail only to find my body feeling stubborn and exhausted and my brain mentally week. On the other hand, I have also had to drag myself out of bed while cursing the rising sun, feeling weak and grumpy only to find myself beaming from ear to ear and skipping up the mountain 20 minutes into a climb. Sometimes something that seems so easy can fowl you up, and life’s biggest challenges can offer the sweetest rewards. Show up, do your best, whatever that is, it’s different every day. Abandon expectations and disappointment will never follow.

5. It’s About The Climb

Miley Cyrus had it right! Cliché as it may sound, the journey is the thing. Ok big, big lesson for life. You have to have a goal. You must envision the peak, or the prize. But if you keep your eyes focused upward, toward something you can’t quite see yet, you will trip and fall over all the little details you were supposed to manage on the way there. You’ll also mentally exhaust yourself waiting for the image to get clearer and closer in your view. Look down, focus on the steps, absorb and entertain yourself with every detail. You’ll arrive at your destination before you know it. Oh, and when you arrive you will have enough joy and energy to do it 10 times over again, because you enjoyed the journey so much.

—Shay Kostabi for ReXist360

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