One of the most popular mindfulness practices that we do each year in my EDHE 105 freshman class is take a silent, contemplative hike along the trail that leads through Bailey’s Woods to Rowan Oak on our campus. This is a beautiful, secluded and easily hiked trail that leads through the woods to the restored home of our most famous local author, William Faulkner. It takes about 20 minutes to hike the trail one way, and it is especially lovely in the fall when the foliage is changing.
We hike the trail single file in complete silence . . . no back packs and no cell phones. I invite my students to give themselves permission to be fully present with the beauty of nature in the stillness and silence and to reflect upon their personal experience. It is a wonderful way for them to be introduced to walking meditation.
Format for a Silent, Contemplative Walk in Nature Through Bailey’s Woods
EDHE 105 – First Year Experience
- Come into complete silence and stillness. Take a few slow, deep breaths, grounding yourself in the present moment.
- Begin walking intently and mindfully, keeping your awareness on your immediate surroundings or on your own breath and body as you walk.
- Walk slowly and deliberately, savoring each step as a gift. Enjoy simply being alive in the freshness of nature.
- When your mind begins to wander, and you begin to plan for the future or worry about the past, draw your awareness back to the present and the here and now.
- As you walk, allow creation and nature to speak to you. Notice the trees, sky, flowers, birds, stones, colors, sounds and smells.
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
- Silently wonder and reflect with childlike curiosity.
- Come out of the silence and dialogue about your experience.