By JOYELL NEVINS
Reflection, contemplation, peace. Not always common words in today’s culture, but they are the backbone behind SilentHikes, a type of multi-sensory “meditation in motion” designed by musician Murray Hidary.
Hidary has taken his concept nationally in a 21-city, cross-country tour this summer. Cowles Mountain served as the location for the 20th hike on Sunday, Sept. 17, and the final hike was held on Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Los Liones Canyon Trail.
SilentHikes are one of the immersive musical experiences created by Hidary’s foundation, MindTravel. Along with SilentWalks and Live-To-Headphones concerts, MindTravel is dedicated to “moving people to purpose through music.” The events have taken place in art museums, beaches, parks, gardens, forests, and mountains. Each one incorporates a mix of original music and mindfulness.
At the beginning of each event, attendees are given a set of headphones. During the SilentHike, original piano compositions by Hidary are piped through each hiker’s set, while Hidary himself leads the group in guided meditations surrounding the music.
“You would think with headphones, there would be a disconnect, but it’s actually the opposite,” Hidary noted. “It creates a sense of unification.”
MindTravelers are all encouraged to be present, seeing the world around them, leaving behind whatever no longer serves them, and picking up whatever they need to move forward. All of this is accomplished while being enveloped in nature’s beauty, whether at a botanical garden in Brooklyn or on the top of a mountain in San Diego.
“There is nowhere to be but here,” Hidary encourages his travelers.The perfect space
Music has been an integral part of Hidary’s life since he first played a viola at 5 years old. Since then, Hidary has worked with a plethora of instruments, including the saxophone, drums, and shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). He has played around the world, and studied both classical composition and Zen monk musical meditation. Piano still remains his first love.
Music was also one of the main components in the transformative healing process after the death of Hidary’s sister in 2014. This is when the MindTravel concept first developed.
“In my experience, we never get over something like that; we just move through it, and it becomes a part of us,” Hidary explained. “It’s up to us how we channel that energy.”
Hidary took his music, took that bittersweet energy, gathered a talented team, and strove to share his experience with the world.
“I created MindTravel to share publicly what this music has done for me personally over so many years,” he said. “Whether it is dealing with profound grief or the micro-traumas of everyday life, music can hold the perfect space.”
MindTravel music orchestrator Charlie Bond agreed.
“Bringing our music to nature in a calming and thoughtful way is definitely one of my favorite experiences we’ve created thus far,” Bond said. “As someone who loves both music and the outdoors, it’s been very rewarding to share what we do with so many other people.”
Those people haven’t fit into a single category yet. The MindTravel experiences attract attendees from all walks of life, encompassing a variety of ages, races, and religions.
“The most delightful aspect of this journey has been the incredible diversity of participants in every city. All ages from kids to seniors and all races, gender and sexual orientations show up,” Hidary said.
Cowles Mountain SilentHiker and Sabre Springs resident Anita Nicholas agreed. Looking around at the MindTravel hikers, she noted, “This shows us tolerance. In such a big group, we are all trying to be mindful of each other.”
Mindfulness and honor are concepts practiced behind the scenes as well. Hidary gives credit to his “incredible team” both at home in Los Angeles and on the road with him for helping him do what he does. He shares with his fellow travelers that “it’s an absolute honor” to be hiking or walking with them.
They return his enthusiasm and respect. Despite being at different stages of their life journey, MindTravelers routinely leave altered by their experience.
As San Diego hiker and teacher Catherine Castronovo, who heard about the SilentHike from a friend, put it, “Sometimes people lead you to right where you need to be.”
For more information about MindTravel and Murrary Hidary, visit mindtravel.com.
Words of wisdom
At the end of each hike or walk, every MindTravel traveler is encouraged to say their first name and a word that spoke to them from the experience. This is a compilation of the words given at the Cowles Mountain event:
Brave, acceptance, peace, love, patience, friendship, blessed, gratitude, accomplished, hope, today, grace, relaxed, tranquil, calm, joy, happy, balance, life, clarity.