This week I had the opportunity to take an early morning hike at the Hill of Life trail here in Austin. It’s a beautiful trail surrounded by a rich landscape and a challenging elevation for a mom of two who rarely does rigorous hiking. :) The trail offered me time for sweet self reflection and a more pure kind of awareness that I often only find in the early morning hours. An awareness driven by no underlying goals. The motivation being to connect to myself and my experience, and to see it unfold without bias, moment by moment. This kind of awareness allowed me to watch as the thoughts streamed by. It allowed me to feel the sensations of fatigue slowly build in my legs, to feel the rise of my heart rate, and even the sweat build, accumulate and drip down my body. It made me feel alive.
As I winded down my hike and headed back onto Mopac, traffic was already building. Every car was head in a very specific direction, likely with a very specific destination. It was so vastly different from my experience on the hike, where the direction was none other than to arrive more wholly into my experience as it was. Few probably have the luxury to begin the day with time to pause or to reflect on one’s self or even on one’s day in a more mindful way. It is the nature of this life. We have jobs, responsibilities, relationships, chores and agendas, all awaiting our arrival. However, to be able to arrive at any of these places in an authentic way, first we need to journey and arrive into ourselves with that same authenticity.
If you are a parent, many of us have read or heard how unstructured time is so important for children. I believe the same to be true for adults. Unstructured time is critical so that we can begin to deconstruct all the layers of experiences and habit that we continue to carry, sometimes without even knowing it. And doing so requires that we don’t give in to the impulse of needing to get to everything done as soon as possible, but rather to offer ourselves moments to pause, to be curious, to question what it is we are doing and why. It is hard work and it continues to be a challenge for me, but I am thankful to be in the place where I ponder such things and of all places at the Hill of Life.