Somewhere between a leisurely garden stroll and a restorative yoga flow comes the silent hike. For the first time, a company called MindTravel is bringing its “meditation in motion” experience, called SilentHike, to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
SilentHikes is a concept created by composer and concert pianist Murray Hidary. During the session, hikers wearing wireless headphones hear music, guidance, and thoughtful commentary from Hidary.
"All the components — music, words, silence, visual cues — work synergistically to help participants connect with themselves and the world around them," the release says. "The evocative, improvisational piano music engenders a feeling of freedom and expansiveness that amplifies the healing and inspirational power of being in nature."
From 7-9 pm on Monday, August 12, Austinites will press pause in their day, slip on headphones, and take "a musical journey into mindfulness" as they walk through the grounds of the center, the company says in a release.
After a quick introduction and intention-setting, the group will take a guided meditative walk down the trails and paths of the Wildflower Center. The music piped into their headphones — the core of a MindTravel experience — are original compositions written by Hidary.
The following day, beginning at 6:30 pm on August 13, organizers will host a SilentPaddle on Lady Bird Lake. The two-hour floating meditation will begin at the Rowing Dock: Canoe & Kayak Rental (2418 Stratford Dr. inside Zilker Park), where participants will be outfitted with life jackets, canoes, and wireless headphones playing a similar meditation.
"MindTravel is an experience like no other," says Jason Wachob, founder of mindbodygreen, in the release. "Imagine a concert pianist improvising beautiful, peaceful music with imagery in the background that matches the beauty of the music — combined, it is almost meditative or trancelike."
In a recent Los Angeles Times story, the writer said that on a silent hike around a museum, she traveled "through the weed-filled gardens of [her] emotions, re-experiencing feelings that just maybe [she] buried on purpose but that resurfaced to embolden [her] to do more than turn on Netflix that night." She added that she slept 11 hours afterwards.
Hidary, a Brooklyn-born composer, pianist, visual artist, tech pioneer, entrepreneur, and physics lover, created MindTravel in 2014, after finding that music helped him heal after the tragic death of his sister in a motorcycle accident. "Now, he is on a mission to share music’s healing power with others and make it the centerpiece of a multi-sensory meditative journey," the company says.
The Austin experiences are part of a 20-city MindTravel summer tour, beginning in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in New York on July 30. MindTravel also heads to Dallas on August 10 for a silent hike and live-to-headphone experience around the Dallas Arboretum.
Since 2014, more than 100,000 people across the globe have experienced MindTravel at one of their 500-plus events, they say. MindTravel also has a foundation that provides free access to its experiences for underserved and at-risk populations. In 2019, the MindTravel Foundation is supporting individuals suffering from grief and trauma.
Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water, and take appropriate precautions for hot weather. MindTravel will provide the headphones.