Tag Archives: Exercise

[Traveling Tales] Take it to the Top: Conquering Gray’s Peak Trail

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“You might not find any wifi in the forest, but I promise you’ll find a better connection”

For the better part of the last decade,  any weekend with time to spare and sun to catch magically evolved into a festival fueled adventure somewhere along the West Coast.  Over the last few years, our festival family reunion and pre-Summer kickoff was Lightning in a Bottle – delightfully and delectably getting us ready for the rest of festival season.  When the time came this year to figure out where we wanted to lounge lavishly and enjoy each others company, we took a long hard look at the growth we’ve elicited from ourselves at Lighting in a Bottle – which comes easily when you’re surrounded by the prismatic love, light and laughter of the event.  Each year, though challenging for individually unique reasons, provided the perfect platform to acknowledge myself in the moment and grow from it.  Paired with sweeping landscapes and myriads of magical music, I almost dare you not to be moved – because I have been, over and over and over again.

Even as I describe what we didn’t experience this year, I feel blessed and gifted with my past experiences.  As I marinate in my own newfound maturity, I amuse myself in what I’ve become – knowing full well that growth is synonymous with growing pains, and I effectively feel like I’ve graduated from a phase of my life, and of myself.   All together, these thoughts synthesized themselves in a way that made me opt for a new journey for Memorial day this time around the sun. So, instead of feverishly packing our apartment to fit inside a tent, we packed an overnight bag and it was off, off and away to Big Bear for a weekend of sun and fun with a few friends that have become a hell of a lot more like family over the last few years.

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Just a hop, skip and a few hour drive into San Bernadino, Big Bear already sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000′ – even before you head out on your hike or snow inspired romp through the woods, and has a little bit of something for everyone – granted that everyone’s a bit of a nature nut.   We might have cut our lodging options short by not planning our trip until literally three days before the weekend, but thanks to AirBnB finding an a beautiful place to stay  – fully equipped with patios and a hot tub on a budget – was super easy.

After to getting into town late Friday night, on Saturday morning the group made a bomb little breakfast and got to packing for our hike.  Several sandwiches, a few mixed drinks and some salacious snackables later and we were off, off and away for what turned out to be an intense but well worth it hike up Gray’s Peak Trail.   All together, the hike up Gray’s Peak is about Seven Miles each way with 1300′ to climb in elevation.  One thing we didn’t know beforehand, but damn well are sure of now: at about 8000′ in elevation is when people start toying with altitude sickness and at approximately 8300′ – at times, you could really tell that we weren’t in Kansas at sea level anymore.

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Even though the few websites we found on the hike claimed that it was great for kids, my friends and I can attest that those kids must be jacked up on Mountain Dew because we all had our collective asses handed to us.  There were a lot of fun ‘turnouts’ – if that’s what they’re even called if you’re not in a car – that got us to jump off the beaten path and forge our own trail, but in a respectful way – of course.  There were a few places with tiny streams, stemming from the base of the mountain and loads of little lizards running amuck every which way.  Near 8k’, you could tell that the trees were starting to be weathered under the altitude but that all changed when you got near the pinnacle, it literally felt like you’d walked through a portal and into Fern Gully.   There’s a couple things that make this a Summer hike in my book – like the incline and the potential weather, but it also turns out that the trailhead is closed for public use between December and April because it’s in the middle of a bald eagle wintering habitat area – how effing neat!

Packing Pro Tips

Make sure everyone has enough water, and a backpack between two people is perfect.  Layers, extra socks, hiking shoes cause you want your ankles.

Things I’ve learned as a novice hiker, but expert adventurer:

  • Cameras are always a must, sure your phone has one – but point and shoots are fun, too! Make sure you take at least one group photo before you head up the trail and into the sweat zone – yeah, now you get it.  Extra points if you remember to bring a collapsible tripod – you’ll really be your groups MVP, most valuable photographer.
  • Your phone has a compass on it, don’t be afraid to use it – but also, put that thing away and enjoy the hike!
  • Hydration is key, super key. Drinking and hiking is fun, but in the Summer it’s not the smartest – make sure you’ve got enough water for the walk up, and the walk back; plus, being more hydrated makes the drunk more fun – if you’re into that type of thing 😉
  • A bag per every two people is appropriate, that way you can also switch off with carrying duty – make sure you toss in some sammies and full bars for meals, and for snackables both nuts and dried fruit have a lot of protein.  Last, but not least if you’re weird like me and don’t really enjoy chewing – throw in a few ensures to top it off.
  • Everybody loves layers – especially for hikes.  Bring an change of socks in case you encounter water, shorts / pants depending on what you start off in and a hoodie.
  • Do a gut check with everyone before the hike starts and make sure everyone’s comfortable with the adventure ahead, you never know who’s in super great shape, or who might have some hesitations about an all day excursion.
  • Leaves of three, let them be. Poison Oak is no joke and usually it’s kept off the trail – if you’re like me and like to forge your own path, know what it looks like…or better yet, just wear pants.

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[Self Discovery] Marinate In Your Mindfulness

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As I’ve reveled in recent experiences, both on a personal level and a global level, I’ve recognized the need in myself to be mindful – to be aware of the present moment, less anxious about the past and unfazed by future worries.  When you truly wrap your head around the ephemeral nature of life, you’ll realize how many moments you’ve wasted by mentally occupying other temporal space. Though daydreaming is nice every once in a while, the perpetual wish to  be in another place, have another job, or be surrounded by different people constantly disengages the mind from your current reality, taking you out of the actual moment at hand.

 

As defined by both yogis and psychologists – the state of mindfulness involves an active focus on the present with purposeful attention to the moment at hand.  Living in the space of mindfulness means our mind is open to being in the now, while feelings and thoughts are processed impartially as nonjudgmental experiences. By engaging in mindful behavior, we’re actively raising our personal vibration and the vibration of the global, collective consciousness.

 

 

Mindfulness is a simple recognition that there is something greater than us that dwells within each and every conscious being.  There’s a light that we all carry inside our hearts, a light that pours into others and collectively illuminates the world – or a light that can be extinguished by others if misused or misplaced.  To me, the light that is in each and every one of us is our Spirit Molecule, our God Particle. God isn’t something beside is, outside of us or separate from us – God is within all of us, God is the spark of consciousness that acknowledges the world in all of it’s forms, God is the catalyst for us to live with respect, love and honor – for not only ourselves, but the world that we inhabit and the greater, global consciousness that we all play a role in.

To recognize and acknowledge this light within others, that’s what yoga practitioners refer to as namaste; for anyone who’s frequented the festival circuit or rave scene, it’s been passionately referred to as PLUR and for those simply meandering the world, you might just think of them as vibes; however you refer to them, they’re a collective call to the common good and a reminder that we’re all part of something greater than us.

In small ways,  we can practice mindfulness every day.  When your creative and mental juices are flowing, there’s no choice but to be fully immersed within the present moment: you’re drawn to the now.  Whether it’s a visual art like painting, pottery or graphic design, dance, flow arts, singing, practicing yoga, creating music, or delving into a hobby like crocheting, gardening, photography, writing, baking or cooking – you’re building upon what has been created while evolving the craft carefully; sometimes with expert timing but always with an artistic vision and passionate drive.  Life itself isn’t very different.

Activate With Exercise

Whether you fancy a hearty run, a solid workout or a flow yoga class – by engaging your mind and body in synchronicity, you’re actively engaging in mindful behavior. C.S. Lewis famously said “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Whatever your personal thoughts are on the issue of mind-body duality, you can’t deny that in this lifetime we’re only allotted one physical body.  Our parents, gym teachers, athletic coaches and doctors have implored that our body is a temple and we should treat it as such.  But as we reach adulthood, more often than not that advice falls by the wayside while schedules climb into the far reaching corners of our calendar: we tell ourselves we can’t find the time, but the reality is we just don’t want to.  Somewhere, in our misaligned, personalized version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – whether it’s because of the stress of a demanding job, an overbearing social schedule, or potentially even anxiety or depression – our physical health has ceased to be a priority.  The good news is that now is the perfect time to change our attitude about how active our lifestyles are.

Exercise like strength training in the gym or running can eliminate any sort of stress or anxiety through the release of endorphins; hormones the body naturally releases as opioid activators that work simultaneously to enhance mood and reduce anxiety.  While engaging in weekly yoga and meditation practices have been proven to improve creative thinking and concentration while decreasing stress by calming the center of the nervous system.

Get Up and Give Back

Love is boundless energy, and one of the only emotions that we can physically, mentally and emotionally both give and receive.  When we’re peace with our own love and able to love ourselves with every fiber of our beings, we’ll be in a prime position to both receive and give love to the world around us. Once you become aware of what you can give back to the world, it’s wonderful to realize that there are multiple ways to physically, emotionally and mentally give back to your immediate community – including neighborhood groups, community service and volunteer organizations. By actively opening your heart for altruistic activities and engaging yourself by assisting those who are less fortunate, you become an important cog in the wheel of life and an integral reason the loving world keeps turning and turning.

Websites like Volunteer Match and Create the Good will link volunteers up with a menagerie of local organizations that are constantly seeking volunteers; if you already have a hunch how you want to help,  a simple search for more prominent, national programs for the American Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club of America and the American SPCA will turn up cause specific opportunities at a local level.

Expand Your Mind

When I was younger, I could charge through a book in a under a week – sometimes even a day if I really fell down the literary rabbit hole.  Over the last three years as this blog has blossomed, I’ve found that the more I entertain the writing process – the less and less I’ve been reading.  So lately, I’ve taken it upon myself to really carve out some time in my day to sit and enjoy some good reads. Yes, books transport you to another location, whether antiquated or fantastical – but when you read, you’re fully immersing yourself in a moment, a moment that you can share with other book lovers and curated by the author.  Instead of rushing to the last page like the finish line of a sprint, consider yourself in for a long walk in the park – remember, the goal is to enhance mindfulness – not just your page count.

Not only are these books incredible on an individual level – it so happens that they all tie into each other very nicely.  Truth be told, I would recommend any book by any of these authors – but these five are my first picks.

Whether you’re reading, meditating or getting yourself into a lovely yoga groove, I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite music to philosophize, relax and marinate in my mindfulness to, including the likes of Emancipator, Bonobo, Major Lazer’s Robot Heart Sunrise Set, Random RabAeroplane, The Human Experience and more. As a pro-tip: anything labeled a ‘sunrise set’ is bound to be extra vibey, so strap in and let loose- as you set off on a blissful, audio adventure.

Through daily attention to yoga, meditation, literature, music and community service, I’ve rediscovered myself on my pursuit of mindfulness while finding ways to expand my mind, body and soul and better give back to the world around me.This is how I choose to spread my light – how do you choose to honor and spread yours? What are your favorite ways to practice mindfulness and inhabit the present moment? Let me know in the comments below.  To close, I’d like to leave you with some quotes from my favorite reads on mindfulness:

“Cultivate solidity. You are somebody; you are something. You are a positive factor for your family, for society, for the world. You have to recover yourself, to be yourself. You have to become solid again. You can practice solidity in everyday life. Every step, every breath you take should help you become more solid. When you have solidity, freedom is there too.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment

“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds”
Carl Honoré, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed

“Peace can be made only by those who are peaceful, and love can be shown only by those who love. No work of love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart, just as no valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
Alan W. Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”
Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“For every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole, as every branch is a particular outreaching of the tree. To manifest individuality, every branch must have a sensitive connection with the tree, just as our independently moving and differentiated fingers must have a sensitive connection with the whole body. The point, which can hardly be repeated too often, is that differentiation is not separation.”
Alan W. Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Namaste.