Meet Our Guide: Melinda Russell

It is easy to get bogged down in our heads that have become cluttered with what can feel like an overwhelming list of worries, responsibility and emails to respond to. The good news is that a healthy way to counteract these ruminations and bring us back to a state of clear headedness is to switch off your phone and go for a walk – in nature. GirlsTrek guide, Melinda Russell talks to us about how being in nature creates a mindful space.

In your experience how does being in nature make you more mindful?

I have this saying, ‘get out of the house, get out of my head.’ There is something about being in nature and putting one foot in front of the other that is very meditative. Mindfulness is about being in the present. It is almost a way of connecting with a higher power, whatever that may mean to you. To me being in nature is a spiritual experience that puts me in the moment.

Once you start walking and engaging in conversation with either a friend or a stranger, issues that seem a big deal tend to float away or at least gain some perspective.

At GirlsTrek we don’t make our clients switch off their phones, but it does tend to happen. Why do you think this is and what benefits have you witnessed?

Well, you can’t check your emails whilst navigating a rocky climb! I have watched it so many times. As time goes on our trekkers disconnect from their ingrained routines and surrender to just being. They stop checking on husbands, kids and work and trust that it will all be ok! They might bring their phones out to take photos of the incredible vistas but by about day 3 their interest in what’s going on in the outside world has significantly waned!

You have a bit of a routine you use at the beginning of each day’s trek. Can you please explain this to us?

Before we set out, I get everyone to do some stretching to limber up. I always take a moment to be grateful for this opportunity to trek in nature. This becomes a natural transition for shutting down technology and we talk through the reason why we are here. It reminds us that we are on this holiday for ourselves and to hopefully take a better version of ourselves back to our family. I encourage everyone to think about what they want to get out of this. It can be to be more patient, a better listener, or to stop hurrying and be more present with our loved ones.

Do you think it helps to have some discipline around your use of technology?

Absolutely and especially when you are on holiday! I encourage everyone to disengage as much as they can so that they don’t miss the incredible experiences a GirlsTrek provides. I do find that as we get further from the hotel people switch off and become connected to reality which is wonderful. This reality is nature and when you are tuned into it you are also connecting with yourself.