This article was published in November 2021 on via their content series: The Elements of Adventure with Matt Walker – the original piece can be found here


Mindfulness & Gratitude

By Matt Walker

A fast and challenging single-track mountain bike descent. The crux moves of a rock climb with wild and disorienting exposure. Climbing a windy ridge line trail in the driving rain. The sunrise on a still lake as loons fly overhead. Each of these experiences involuntarily creates an experience of mindfulness. The focus, novelty, and environment bring your attention directly to the moment. It’s as if time stands still. Each detail is clear and there are no distractions. Everything hinges on that moment – there is no future, no past. It is a powerful state of being.

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing our attention on the present moment, without judgement, and with an awareness of our feelings, our thoughts, and the physical state of our body.

Experiencing mindfulness seems simple. But like anything else that appears simple and elegant on the surface – it isn’t as straightforward as it appears.

While there are multiple challenges in practicing mindfulness, one of the most significant is to actually remember to practice it! Our brains are experts in the art of distraction. Staying present and focused on the moment is not something we are accustomed to. One of the best hacks we can employ to engage mindfulness in our lives and to cultivate the practice is to create intentional and unique experiences to highlight the moment. This kind of intentionality sets the stage for bringing  your awareness into the present moment.

As we move closer to the end of the year, I encourage you to practice a unique application of mindfulness. Create an opportunity to share your gratitude in your relationships with others.

We continue to emerge from the isolation, disorientation, and uncertainty of the past two years and we have a unique opportunity – to engage in gratitude and share our appreciation directly and explicitly with those that have supported us over the past two years.

Be intentional with this experience. Invite a close friend on a hike, share a sunrise coffee together, go on a Sunday afternoon bike ride, one last camping trip before winter settles in, or if they are far away – send a text with a photo from a previous trip. Even better, follow that up with an idea for your next outing. Whatever it is, create an opportunity to be in nature together, share your appreciation for them directly, and be intentional with your time.

Share your gratitude directly. Take the risk. Speak that which is assumed, but not stated specifically. Our time on this planet together is finite and precious. May we each have the opportunity to share our gratitude with those that support us, adventure with us, and with whom we share the ups, downs, and gorgeous sunsets.