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As a Yoga Journal editor, meditation is a big part of my life. But I prefer moving meditations over sedentary ones, so instead of sitting on a cushion, I hit the trail. Hiking is my time away from the world. Spending hours meandering through a forest or up a mountainside, completely disconnected from the goings-on of civilization, recharges me.
When I’m hiking, I’m entirely in the moment. I’m able to focus entirely on the rhythmic movements of my legs and feet, feel the air on my skin, and notice my heart pumping and the depth of my breaths. I register the weight of my backpack and boots. I become consumed by the grandeur of the majestic mountains and towering trees.
Before I leave for a meditative hike, I put my phone on airplane mode and keep it that way until I return home. This practice saves my phone’s battery and prevents any texts from sneaking in while I’m crossing a babbling brook. But being unreachable can have its cons, too: As any avid hiker will tell you, safety should be your top priority.
Not being able to call for help if something goes wrong is a very real worry. I’ve been lost more times than I’d like to admit. In the past I used general backcountry wisdom and trail maps to help me get back on the trail. But now, I use Gaia GPS.
Gaia GPS is a topographical mapping service that makes navigation a breeze. Premium members can download maps directly to their phones. While you’re hiking, they show exactly where you are (or aren’t!) on the trail and provides an arrow which directs you to your end-point. The tool also offers features such as snow coverage, slope shading, and elevation markers so you can know what to expect before attempting a new hike.
Gaia GPS is a massive safety net for any outdoor enthusiast. Knowing where you are at all times outdoors can pacify your fear of getting lost, so that you can let go and embrace the sights and sounds of nature. Personally, I won’t hike without it anymore. A premium membership to Gaia GPS is included in an Outside+ membership. After using it one time, you’ll realize why it’s worth its weight in gold.
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Kyle Houseworth is the assistant editor of Yoga Journal.