There are many techniques that you can use to hone or deepen your awareness. A good place to start is by listening. The next time you go on a walk or a hike consider stopping every now and then just to listen. You might hear an airplane flying overhead or a truck shifting gears in the distance. You might notice the birds around you and the different calls that they make. Or you might hear the quiet of absolute stillness.
As you continue your walk, you might notice how the sounds differ depending upon where you are. If you stop in a meadow, you might hear the buzz of bees moving from flower to flower. If you are deep in a pine forest you might hear the breeze whistling through the woods. In an aspen grove, the quaking leaves fluttering against each other might sound like the patter of a light rain. One of my most distinct memories while hiking on the Appalachian Trail was when thousands of grasshoppers were stirring the downed leaves, sounding as if they were making popcorn.
You can also emphasize other senses to deepen your awareness. You may notice how the light changes throughout the day. Or you could notice the shadows and how they get shorter and then longer as the day progresses. Or you might want to count how many different types of wildflowers there are in the next 100 yards.
Or you could notice the different smells as you walk through the woods. I still remember the distinct smell when walking through a forest in Pennsylvania full of thigh high ferns right after a rain. I wish I could assign a specific scent to it, but I can’t. It was like breathing in peacefulness. The more you pay attention to these little things, the more automatic awareness will become. It will be what you do when you go out.
“Enhancing Your Awareness” is an excerpt from the book The Gentle Art of Wandering by David Ryan.