The heart of Montreal where I live is the mountain. It’s not really a mountain, it’s more like a hill, but it’s the center point of the soul of the city. The mountain is really a park, designed in the 1880s by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same architect who designed New York’s Central Park. There is a wide paved path that circles around the mountain, as well as rustic trails that may trick you into thinking you’re out in the woods. On a beautiful weekend day, you might run into two or three friends on the path as the whole city is drawn to the vibrancy and tranquility of Mont Royal park.
The year my husband left, I turned to the mountain for solace. The weekends were long and quiet and I developed a practice of walking on the mountain every Sunday morning. My heart was aching but being in nature was a balm and I always felt better after my walk. Even though it was winter, he left in November and remember, this is Canada, I would dress up warmly and take to the path. It helped.
Source: Vikki Stark
This past fall, I turned to nature again to connect with tranquility. I was able to hike in the woods (the real woods) every weekend for six weeks in a row. At some point on each trail, I would stop and stand still for a while, listening to all the sounds, watching all the life around me, breathing deeply and feeling like the breath was healing. This practice of arriving in a place of stillness in the woods would nurture me all week long.
I didn’t know that what I was doing had a name. It’s called Forest Bathing – in Japanese, Shinrin Yoku. It’s a therapeutic practice that was developed in Japan and is now being taught around the world. It’s not just a walk in the woods. It’s about going out in nature and really connecting – moving slowly with no destination and taking it all in. You can learn about it here: https://hollyhock.ca/8stepsforesttherapy/.
Let me suggest that you try it. If you can’t get to the actual woods, find the most rustic park in your town and let the trees heal you. The trees, grasses, birds, water are all alive – see if you can feel part of it; if you can connect, even a little bit. It’s a practice so the more you do it, the easier it gets to relax into the arms of nature. And it will put your soul to rest.
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