Whatever Purifies You

The last couple months have kept a tough and relentless pace. Work has required long hours and I’ve been sick, making trips to the gym less frequent and weekend naps more likely. The necessary stuff has gotten done, but on the whole, I’ve been feeling sluggish, puffy, and slightly off. Fortunately, nothing restores equilibrium quite like a detox hike.

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Of course, I haven’t stopped hiking in the last few months. Like yoga, hiking is a constant in my life and it’s not hard to keep up both practices even when life gets chaotic. What makes a seemingly ordinary hike a detox hike? The purposeful state of mind you bring to it.

When I hike there’s rarely an agenda beyond simply having a pleasant day in the woods. Nearly all treks have a meditative quality, though, so a quiet mind and a refreshed attitude are familiar byproducts. Yesterday, however, was less meditative and more an active and painfully honest decluttering. Less rumination, more space for new ideas. Toss the self-pity, and make room for serendipity.

Our chosen route to the Massanutten ridge delivered a long, steady incline: just what I needed to make me feel the burn and push negative thoughts down and out. The endorphins kicked in to aid the process. The day was bright and the foliage just starting to turn, but best of all was the cold breeze, of just the right velocity to be un-ignorable but not unbearable, and just the right temperature to keep you moving. The wind whistled right through my thoughts, bearing vigilant witness to any unhealthy ideas I was tempted to hold onto, and carried them promptly away: down into the valley, across the Shenandoah River, and hopefully all the way to West Virginia–and beyond.

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“Whatever purifies you is the right path, I will not try to define it.” – Rumi

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