A Walk in the Woods

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Will Swann

By Mary Boutieller

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.”—Anne Frank

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in the woods, bathed in a multitude of colors and smells and lighting, finding such peace and quiet surrounding me as I let my mind tinker with thoughts that flow in and back out again. There is something magical about letting our thoughts slipstream without censorship, like our breath or love.

Earlier this week, I walked along a mountain trail and paused to reflect on the enormity of 2020, the upside down, inside out-ness of it all and the challenges and gifts it has brought. In some ways, I am grateful for this year as it has unfolded; it has interrupted a way-too-comfortable routine and has shed light on things I’d often taken for granted. It has allowed me to say “no” and “yes” more freely, and it has pushed the pause button on automatic responses to just about everything. Yet, it is a bit harder to feel gratitude for the abrupt end to all that was known to be true and steady—the upheavals and suffering that so many have experienced and continue to experience. Those who have lost work, been sick or lost a loved one have paid such a price for our slow learning.

Still, we know that there is more to life than this or that current event. Even great suffering will pass and if we can just remember that simple message, then this is all doable. I know several friends who have survived cancer, and their spirit and willingness to endure what they did to get to the other side is both remarkable and a shining lesson for those who know them. I know many more people who have suffered hardship and loss and, although grief weaves its way through the new fabric of their lives, they keep on going and thriving, in spite of their broken hearts. Recently, a dear friend reminded me of the story of Anne Frank, hidden with her family in an attic space for 761 days, yet in her diary, she wrote, “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” So, she reminds me, to keep it all in perspective.

This too shall pass and hopefully, one day soon, it will be a distant memory, and we will come away from it not unscathed but better versions of ourselves because of it. We will appreciate the small joys and the moments that make us smile. We will take ourselves and small annoyances less seriously. We will remember the communities built not of proximity but of choice. And we will remember the harder lessons of faith and fragility, of resilience and surrender, of hope and compassion and possibility.

That same friend’s daughter was supposed to get married this year. Because of Covid-19, the planned ceremony was canceled not once but twice. Yet, instead of waiting for another year or another time when it would be more “normal”, she and her beau decided to go ahead with a small backyard ceremony. Instead of everything being big and picture-perfect, it was small and intimate, meaningful and real, heartfelt and, hopefully, a memory that feeds the soul of their marriage. Again, this felt like proof that life goes on, that we endure, that people are good and that there is more to us than meets the eye. And, we can find gratitude during good times and during those times when life just doesn’t make sense.

Where in your life might you find the inspiration that you need to lift yourself up? Might it be right in front of you? Might it be as simple as a walk in nature, a bird’s flight, a child’s laughter?

That’s what I’ve been doing these past couple of weeks: reconvening with what brings me back to the truth, taking in all of nature’s beauty, keeping an eye out for the small joys, and healing my heart and mind—one breath at a time.

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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