Hiking up Piestewa Peak in Arizona
This weekend I went on a hike up Piestewa Peak (also known as Squaw Peak) in Phoenix, AZ. This one’s a favorite of mine because it’s short and I like to challenge myself to better and better completion times each trip. Then, when I get to the top, there are plenty of rocks to climb around and hide near. It’s a very popular hike, but I can always find a spot where there are not many people. For me, these hikes are not a place to socialize, but rather a place to be in silence (ideally). I’ll hide out there for a couple of hours and just meditate and sort things out in my mind.
What I noticed is after I do this, is it takes me to another place mentally. Not only am I so much clearer in my mind, but it’s almost like my spirit is on its way out of my body (I realize that might sound like a stretch to some, but as a somewhat experienced meditator, this feeling would happen all the time).
The Brain During Meditation
I’ve always been interested in what exactly happens to the brain during meditation — how when I don’t give much power to my thoughts, I become more in touch with some other part of me and after my meditation session I feel so much less in touch with my physical self.
The thing is, I’ve always known that there was more to me than what I know as my mind, thoughts, and my physical self. I’ve always felt somewhat detached from it even without being in a meditative state. But meditating in nature really makes all of this happen faster than if I were just doing it at home.
Journey Down the Mountain
During this particular time at the peak of the mountain, I meditated, then after two hours as usual started my journey back down. As I was coming down I passed many other hikers. Only it was different this time on the way down than on the way up. I again didn’t feel like I was so much physically present anymore, and every time I walked by a person I could feel their energy so much clearer, and almost feel what they were thinking.
From this perspective it made me feel more like I was on the outside looking in — rather than how I normally feel on a day-to-day basis. The reason for this is, normally my mind is whirling about with thoughts and I am interpreting the world around me at every glance, and I am usually caught up in my thoughts just like everyone else. But once I meditate for a while and then come across others and feel their mind states, I am coming from a place of heightened clarity and as a result, everyone else’s feels so much more self-contained when they are caught up in their thoughts. From a figurative “aerial view,” you could picture a bunch of people just wandering around not really SEEING clearly but completely overtaken by the buzz of their thoughts. We are distracted by our thoughts constantly and it causes us to miss true clarity, with some of us not even realizing a higher clarity exists.
Insight from Being on the Mountain — Some Reminders
All of this was also a great reminder that it is all too common that we get lost in manifestations versus the substance of things. And when I say manifestations, I don’t mean in something as obvious as getting caught in materialistic items versus something below the surface — but more just a subtle habit your mind creates by focusing too much on how things appear and how they’re relevant to society on some level rather than purely how they feel to you.
We may know ourselves as not materialistic, humble people, but not realize how many external factors are influencing decisions that should be made from the heart. When we have a fork in the road in terms of our life paths, it’s easy to feel torn between which way to take when so much of our lives a multitude of different components and people. Especially with modern-day lifestyles, where so much of our lives have become dependent on other things— our employers, money, family situations, and so on. A large part of the challenge we have in life is an art of finding a balance between sacrifice and following what is in our hearts.
For most of us the world is an information overload, and unless we have a strong connection to the higher part of ourselves, or to nature or whatever it may be, it is very difficult to be guided through all of the mental noise that may be obscuring the path to insight and higher understanding. If we don’t have this, much of our life manifests only through our mental noise without the help of true clarity.
p.s. — I have a new personal goal to make this hike a much more regular (maybe every weekend) thing. 🙂