The practice of mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective.

I often have the problem that I can't bring myself down "to the hike" when on a short Saturday trip etc. This problem doesn't apply (at least for me) if I'm on vacation. After the second day I'm absolutely in the "here and now".

However, how can I improve my mindfulness or bring myself into a mindful state to experience the hike also on short trips?

Further explanation

In case you didn't get what I wanted to explain, here is a paragraph which describes the problem pretty well:

The problem is that you are often stressed from work and other things and therefore you think about these things. However, as you hike and think you forget to experience the hike itself. You are just wandering around and forget to focus on the landscape, nature and so on. And often you find yourself in the car again and think: "Damnit, what have I even done in the last couple of hours?" This feeling goes away if you are away from stressful things a few days. After you've hiked (without smartphone etc.) for a day already, you are finally in the "here and now" experiencing the hike.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about meditation and mindfulness. – Eric Jan 11 '16 at 15:16

Though this may be related to the outdoors because of its inherent outdoor nature and its relevance to enjoying the Great Outdoors, I think radpin's comment may be right that this is about meditation and mindfulness. I say that because the main exercise that would help with this is: mindfulness and meditation.

You can practice shaking distractions directly in the outdoors however. Plenty of people seek the Great Outdoors for mindfulness and meditation (e.g. the practice of sit-spots).

As for specific exercises here are two that work for me which you can try outdoors:

  1. Go out there on a mission. Have a bushcraft goal in mind that will keep you on the lookout for certain materials or terrain. Whether you want to find a certain tree species for its twig or bark, or you want to find the perfect location to build a debris hut (or simply sit and observe!) I find this a lot more immersive and engaging than just walking around the woods, even if at the end of the day I physically just walked around the woods.

  2. Practice simple, 'portable' mindfulness exercises. Breathing exercises are great especially as when you hike you need air and blood to be flowing well, and when you're in the Great Outdoors it's a great opportunity to soak up some fresh air. One I like is 4-fold breathing: exhale completely, then inhale naturally while timing it in 4-parts (doesn't need to be 4 seconds, just 4 'beats' to set your comfortable rhythm for that instance). After you've inhaled and set your beat, hold the air in for four counts, then exhale fully over those four counts, hold the air out for four counts, inhale again. Repeat this sequence four times and you may feel refreshed and more focused. For me it helps build concentration, shake distractions, and get me well aerated. On that note, maintaining good hydration also helps mental clarity.

As I started by saying however, it's making a routine of these things that will help them be effective. To develop ease in a routine, a little every day can be better than a lot one in a blue moon. Doing a breathing exercise for the first-time when outdoors may just be another distraction rather than a clarifying routine (or it may be an eye opening experience!) The answer and question are somewhat subjective but I think these exercises are generally applicable and helpful things for all people in the Great Outdoors.

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