“Into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” (John Muir, Environmentalist)
To be clear, “to lose my mind” does not refer to mental instability. Quite the opposite, actually. It refers to a letting go of stress and anxiety and busyness and a discovering of deeper peace.
Hiking is immensely therapeutic. The varying terrain and the sounds of nature untie knots as good as a massage. The physical exertion pushes away the past along with thoughts of what’s coming and allows you to exist in the moment.
An early morning or evening stroll through the woods, while one of my favorite activities, only scratches the surface of what a few hours or more of moderate hiking can do. Truly immersing yourself in the forest leads your soul to a rest like none other, especially if you refuse any electronic interference.
After a long hike, my feet and back are tired, but my soul feels refreshed. I am closer to the ones I love, especially if they went hiking with me, and I dip just a bit deeper into the peace of God that passes understanding.
Somehow, nature heals my soul. It reminds me of the greatness of God, what he’s done, is doing, and promises to yet do. God’s creation encourages me as it praises his name, and my soul once again is balanced, centered, and rejuvenated.
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” (Psalm 96:11-12)