Hiking and meditation: the best paths to find yourself

Walking helps clear your mind of negative thoughts and promotes contemplation and spirituality

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© Simon English on Unsplash

Few activities can boast benefits for the body, mind and soul like walking. To get away from everyday stress, to regain physical shape and inner peace, there is nothing better than a nice walk, preferably in the middle of nature, in the green of the woods and away from the noise of the city.

The benefits of walking were already known in ancient times. Aristotle, like many of his other philosopher colleagues throughout history, used to take long walks to meditate and encourage philosophical reflections. Today, scientific research has confirmed his insights.

The benefits of walking outdoors are widely recognized: walking in the midst of nature reduces the level of stress, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system. But there is more. This type of exercise is also good for the brain.

Walking for prolonged periods, away from the chaos of everyday life, calms the mind and promotes creativity. A recent study has shown that two hours a week in the midst of nature are enough to obtain countless benefits which, instead, those who walk in the city do not have. Contact with the surrounding environment would promote relaxation and help clear the mind of negative thoughts. This does not happen to those who walk in the middle of traffic and buildings.

The creator of the Walkopedia platform for hikers, William Mackesy, is a staunch supporter of the thesis that prolonged effort is the key to finding inner peace. This works best when walking alone or walking a path related to the divine dimension, such as a pilgrimage. The mind manages to enter a contemplative state and to abstract itself from the worries of the world.

Walking is an activity that is aimed at practically everyone: all you need is a pair of hiking shoes and a great desire to explore. No large equipment is needed, at least until a certain level is reached, the costs are relatively low and the benefits are assured.

Lonely Planet, which spreads tourist guides all over the world, has compiled a ranking of the best Zen trails, those that favor meditation and spirituality and help find yourself:

  1. Jordan Trail, Jordan: an itinerary full of attractions that runs throughout the country between naturalistic and historical beauties.
  2. Camino de Santiago, Spain: one of the best known pilgrimages, a route that goes from the French Pyrenees to Galicia, crossed by believers and non-believers.
  3. West Coas Trail, Canada: a path through the forest made up of walkways and ladders, waterfalls and beaches.
  4. Kora of Mount Kailash, Tibet, China: short and demanding circuit, sacred to Buddhists, Hindus and Jains.
  5. Three Capes Track, Australia: excursion to Tasmania overlooking the sea.
  6. Via Dinarica, Western Balkans: trekking that combines ancient shepherds’ paths and military routes through the Dinaric Alps.
  7. Westweg, Germany: an itinerary through the beauties of the Black Forest.
  8. John Muir Trail, United States: a route through the magnificent mountain landscapes of California.
  9. Kumano Kodo, Japan: Samurai’s sacred path through the forests of the Kii Peninsula.
  10. Trekking “W”, Chile: the most famous trekking in Patagonia between turquoise lakes, rolling pampas and steep mountains.