“Here I have finally found a place of quiet, a place of peace, the like of which I could have only wished for”, wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about Tirol in 1829. The outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis caught me in Austria. On March 12th, with 107 cases in Tirol, the regional government of Tirol decided that the cable cars should close on Sunday, March 15. In Tirol, the ski season had unexpectedly ended for me. After feeling frustrated and sad at first with the closure of the ski resorts, I soon realized how lucky I was to be able to spend this time of uncertainty living in a small village -Patsch-, on the outskirts of Innsbruck, and surrounded by a wonderful mountainous landscape. The crisis has been under control in Tirol from a very early moment, and after a few days of quarantine, in which we could not leave the limits of the municipality, in early April I was able to start doing long walks in the mountains. And walking has allowed me to discover a new Tirol that has turned out to be even more beautiful than the one in winter I already knew. We are essentially overloaded with messages. That's the main problem with modern living, we are constantly bombarded with input and we "think" so much... The flood of information that swamps us daily seems to produce more pain than gain, especially in these COVID-19 times. The surging volume of available information in this hyperconnected world can adversely affect not only our personal well-being but also professionally. So, I tried to find a space of quietness, noiseless. Silence is not a state that comes easily to us in these times of constant noise. But silence is something that comes naturally when you are walking in the mountains, helping to find a new inner calm. Walking helps me to be more mindful. I love to just clear my head and reboot my mind understanding that being is more important than doing. I have made walking a central part of my life here in Tirol. I wonder if walking, like skiing, is so good for me because it is a great way to cultivate some sort of calm, of being with the body rather than in the mind. Walking allows me to feel grounded, very rooted in being part of nature and the mountain landscape. Walking in the mountains combines all the things I love: Being active, in nature, surrounded by beauty. It allows me to be, to live in the moment. The Tirolean Mountains in the Heart of the Alps, in Austria, has opened up to me as a fascinating mountain world, a walking paradise of 24,000 kilometers of marked hiking and mountain trails. Rambling through the mountain peaks, lakes, and forests of Tirol is one of the best ways to find these sought after havens of peace and tranquility. Getting immersed in a walk in the mountains makes us feel cleansed. To be in contact with nature helps us to have a more fulfilling way of living that enriches ourselves. In my next series about Hiking in Tirol, I will try to evoke the peace and serenity of the mountains. Start walking and enjoy the countryside. It can be genuinely useful to focus and to miss out on all the noise. Now that things are easing, go back to the mountains. And remember walking is about living in the present moment!!!
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