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How hiking heals by Sarah Wilson

Hiking is my default travel raison d’etre. When you travel solo, you have to create an ultimate purpose.

Couples and groups of friends have shared experiences and the very process of negotiating and compromising becomes a motivating and guiding raison d’etre in and of itself. It creates boundaries.

When you’re on your own you can literally do whatever you want. So you have to reign things in and create a framework of purpose. It needs to be a framework that can stand up to the loneliness of moments, and the most angst-ridden existential meltdowns. Hiking does this. It also does more. As I say, it tames and heals any dis-ease, whether it be illness, angst, pain, longing, frustration or imbalance. Here’s how…

Hiking grounds us. Literally, in that it connects us with the earth. With dirt, rocks, trees and ants.

Hiking gets systems working as they should. Walking is the best thing ever for anyone with lymphatic issues. When I’m thyroidy, I hike and my swelling settles. It also builds up appetite in a natural way… Not in an overly taxing way. And it gets us out into fresh air.

Hiking gets us in touch with awe. For me, trudging over rocks and earth for hours on end puts things in perspective. Life feels big, I—and my pain—feel small. This heals.

Hiking lulls the mind. My mind chatter goes crazy at first—inventing, debating, scheduling—then it settles, slowly. It’s like my mind is rocked to sleep by the motion. After about 40 minutes it settles into a thoughtless, wordless space. I become aware only of the sounds, the smells… I’m taken away from my dis-ease. I’m comforted and comfortable. I can feel my angry inflammation settle, too. Oh, sweet nothing! It is in the nothingness that things are tamed.

Hiking gets us to love going slow. 
I can be in pain sometimes when I hike. I don’t have juice. But if I’m seven kilometres from home, I have no choice but to keep going. How? I go slow. I break it down. I find the perfect pace. The sweet spot.

And just this act—finding your sweet spot—is a key skill in healing dis-ease. To know how to find your sweet spot is a sign of true wellness.

People often ask me to recommend hikes that I’ve loved. Here are a couple to get you started:

Mount Amos in Tasmania. A friend and I did this at sunrise. We ambitiously thought it would be a walk in a (flattish) park. But we can now confirm: This walk is only for the experienced. There are several hairy bits, but the view is astonishing. Do it if your heart is not faint and you like an adventure.

Castle Rock in the Munghorn Gap Park. Just outside Mudgee, this eight kilometre return hike is spectacular.

About the author

Sarah Wilson is a New York Times best-selling author and blogger whose journalism career has spanned 20 years, across television, radio, magazines, newspapers and online.

She appears regularly as a commentator on a range of programs including Channel 7′s Sunday Night, The Morning Show, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise, Ten Network’s Good News Week and The Project, Nine’s 60 Minutes and A Current Affair.

Sarah is an adept social commentator, following a career that’s spanned politics, health advocacy, restaurant reviewing, opinion writing and trend forecasting.

Sarah is the author of the best-sellers I Quit Sugar and I Quit Sugar For Life, and also authored the best-selling series of cookbooks from IQuitSugar.com.

Sarah lives in Sydney, rides a bike everywhere and when asked what her hobbies are cites “bush hiking”, planning her next meal and being fascinated by other people with real hobbies.

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