Whiskey, Wellness, and Wisdom

with Matthew Bachman

Backpacking is a relatively new hobby of mine. It started out as a way to unplug from the distractions of the world and get some writing done. What I found instead was a vast world of beauty and splendor that had me yearning for more. It was a spiritual and meditative experience that I believe everyone could benefit from.

The Ancient Desert Christians

The ancient Desert Christians credited the wilderness with offering them spiritual revelations. The early Desert Christians benefited greatly from this wilderness, and it continues to provide them with spiritual practices. In the book of Matthew, Jesus is described as going into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights:

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry.”

Matthew (4:1)

Now, for those of you familiar with the story, may be note that he spent Judaean Desert and when most people think of the word wilderness, thick woods and lions and tigers and bears oh may be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, by definition, a wilderness is: “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.”


As a backpacker, you can cultivate essential spiritual skills such as focusing your attention, being in the moment, and cultivating silence. The reason Jesus chose the wilderness to be tempted by Satan was not a random throw of the dice, it was because he knew that’s where the presence of his father was strongest.

Meditating in Nature

Photo by Savanna Goldring from Pexels

Meditation in nature aims to cultivate the ability to focus on the here and now, rather than on the past or future. Practice bringing your attention back to the physical world and the sensations of your breathing as you explore nature. Additionally, you have the option of focusing on other senses, such as sound and temperature. While backpacking, it is important to cultivate a state of open attention. This is a great way to improve one’s overall well-being.

By adding meditation to your backpacking routine, you can find a sense of peace and tranquility in the wilderness. If you’re looking to get started with meditation, here are a few tips:

  • Find a comfortable spot: You don’t need to be in a lotus position to meditate, just find a spot that is comfortable for you.
  • Set a timer: Meditation doesn’t have to be long, even five minutes can be beneficial. Set a timer so you don’t have to worry about the time.
  • Focus on your breath: Once you’re settled in, focus on your breath. inhale and exhale deeply and slowly.
  • Let your thoughts come and go: Don’t get attached to any one thought, let them come and go as they please.

Journaling

Photo by Negative Space from Pexels

It’s common for travelers to write about their adventures. As a means of processing your spiritual journey, journaling is excellent. It is possible to use journaling as a creative outlet and as a form of therapy. Journaling is a great way to keep track of your experiences while on the road. So that you can make sense of everything that has happened while you were away. It’s also a blast!
You don’t have to adhere to a particular religion to journal!

Even though journaling isn’t for everyone, it can be a powerful tool for dealing with emotions and generating new creative ideas. Those who are ill or recovering from an injury will find it especially helpful. It can also assist you in organizing your thoughts and overcoming troubling feelings. You’ll reap both the spiritual and physical benefits of journaling if you combine it with time spent outside.

Conclusion

There are numerous benefits to backpacking – too many to fit into a single blog article. If you’re looking to find your inner peace or find a stronger connection to God, I highly recommend it. You’ll be amazed at the stuff we have hiding in our minds, silenced by the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

I thought that I had grieved the passing of my father, but it was out there alone under stars by the campfire that realized how much I still missed him. I found myself doubting if I would ever see him again. I acknowledged my doubts and meditated on them. I put out my campfire and climbed into my hammock and listened to the sounds of the forest. As I felt myself slowly drift off to sleep, I realized that I may have been miles away from civilization, but I wasn’t alone.

5 thoughts on “Spiritual Sunday
Backpacking as a Spiritual Practice

  1. Scott says:

    My son and I took up backpacking to extend our outdoor skill set (he’s a boy scout). We’d been camping and hiking for years, but combining the two made for not only a compounding effect on our skills and a closer father-son bond, but, interestingly, a leap in my own spiritual growth and faith. We’re starting up a hiking group at our Lutheran church to share our experience with others.

    1. That is great to hear, Scott! I honestly never thought I’d take to backpacking as I have and I’m so glad to hear that other people, such as yourself, have had similar experiences. I wish you the best of luck with your venture and hope you can continue spread the Lord’s message through this wonderful outdoor hobby!

      1. Scott says:

        Thanks! I was a bit unsure of backpacking myself, as I had had a somewhat disastrous trip when I was a young teen (a church camp trip that sounded like a great idea at the time, but I was woefully underprepared). This time I put some more thought into it, started a lot more modestly, and we were rather successful! Good luck with your backpacking and writing.

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