Every Friday morning, I practice my recovery with a solo hike up Gregory Canyon in Boulder, Colorado. A couple of weeks ago, I was ¾ of the way down, completely lost in my thoughts, when a runner passed me going up yelled, There’s a rattlesnake on the trail ¼ of a mile down!
That announcement certainly got my attention and jolted me back into the present moment. I immediately changed my brisk-paced hike into a more slow and intentional one. I also grabbed a stick and cautiously proceeded down the trail, armed and ready for a possible encounter.
After what I calculated to be a ¼ mile, I relaxed (a little), deciding the snake must have gone back into the woods. A little further down the trail, I saw two men intensely studying a tree. Is that the rattlesnake? I asked. Sure is and it’s very rare to see them climb trees like this, one replied.
I was very grateful to the rattlesnake for being in the tree instead of on the trail because it was MUCH bigger than I imagined. I was also grateful to it for helping me realize how deeply distracted I was on my hike with my busy mind. The snake reminded me why I was there, to connect with nature and myself and that requires presence.
Do you ever find yourself distracted, even when you are doing something you love, as I did? Presence, being aware of your experience in the moment, requires us to:
- Slow down so that you don’t miss the moment.
- Let go of thoughts that take you into the past or future to be right here, right now.
- Do one thing at a time to really experience the one thing.
Being outside and exploring nature is a great way to connect with yourself. But if you aren’t present to your experience, you could miss the whole point of it, along with the views, the wildflowers, and even a rattlesnake!