Episode 108: Hiking as a spiritual practice with Gordon Brewer, MEd, LMFT

In this episode of the Soul Care for Therapists podcast, Dawn Gabriel welcomes Gordon Brewer, MEd, LMFT, to discuss the topic of hiking as a spiritual practice. As they delve into the profound connection between nature and spirituality, they explore the transformative power of hiking and the ways it can enhance one’s spiritual journey.

Gordon Brewer’s Background

Gordon Brewer, the host of “The Practice of Therapy” podcast and the founder of Kingsport Counseling Associates, shares his extensive experience in the world of therapy and private practice. He discusses his passion for podcasting, as well as his love for the Appalachian Mountains, where he often embarks on hiking adventures that provide him with solace and inspiration.

The Connection Between Spirituality and Hiking

Gordon explains that his daily practice involves spending time on the “Green Belt”, a picturesque trail system near his home. While this may not be classified as rigorous hiking, it serves as an opportunity for reflection, meditation, and prayer. Gordon Brewer: “Being in nature gives us a whole new reference point to bring some peace, bring some comfort, and to feel connected.”The natural surroundings and the act of being in nature positively influence his spiritual well-being, offering a sense of cleansing and meaning. Gordon also highlights the intriguing concept of mystery that comes with hiking, as each bend in the trail presents an element of anticipation and discovery.

Benefits of Hiking as a Spiritual Practice

Dawn and Gordon delve into the myriad of benefits that hiking as a spiritual practice can bring. They emphasize how hiking, whether done alone or in the company of others, creates a space for deep connections, transformative conversations, and a profound sense of accomplishment. The physical exertion involved in hiking also serves as a natural intervention for depression, as it helps reorient the mind and stimulates different thought processes. Dawn Gabriel: “It’s like connecting to something bigger than yourself, this felt sense of community in a spiritual way.” Additionally, the practice of focusing on one’s surroundings and engaging all the senses cultivates mindfulness and fosters a greater appreciation for the beauty and interconnectedness of the natural world.

Tips for Implementing a Spiritual Practice of Hiking

Gordon Brewer: “Spirituality is paying attention to the stuff we don’t normally notice, connecting to the greater than in some way.” To incorporate hiking as a spiritual practice, Gordon suggests integrating various elements that align with one’s faith or personal beliefs. For example, listening to spiritually enriching podcasts or instrumental music while hiking can offer a meditative experience. Gordon also mentions the importance of grounding exercises, such as paying attention to breathing, muscle tension, and the sensory experiences of temperature, smells, and visual details. The act of being intentional about noticing and appreciating these aspects of nature allows for a deeper connection with the divine and a broader sense of spiritual presence.


As the conversation draws to a close, Dawn and Gordon express their shared belief in the healing power of nature and the need to move beyond the confines of technology and work-centric routines. They encourage listeners to embrace the practice of hiking as a spiritual journey, allowing it to bring about a shift in perspective and an opportunity for personal growth. By opening oneself to the mysteries of nature, exploring the present moment, and engaging in spiritual practices such as reflection, meditation, and prayer, hikers can discover a meaningful connection with both themselves and the greater spiritual realm.

Links and Resources

Podcast Production and Show Notes by James Marland