This morning, when I went out for my daily practice of having my first cup of coffee outside, it was a balmy zero degrees. I perform this morning ritual everyday, regardless of the weather – rain, sleet, snow, cold or hot, do not deter me from my time to be alone in the backyard, staring off into the forest, to help calm my mind, body and spirit and prepare me for the day. My breathing is slowed, my thoughts are on nature and when they get distracted, I shrug it off and come back to staring at my favorite birch tree.
My home has a normal sized plot of land, but I am blessed with this huge forest that is behind the house…this also leads to the river below. It is my wildlife sanctuary and regardless of the time of season, the views are spectacular. I’m amazed that the woodpeckers are still out there doing their thing, I tend to forget the names of some of the birds, but a few of them look like Woody the Woodpecker, the cartoon character from my childhood. There are smaller ones as well and easily over a dozen other species of birds that visit me, including the occasional eagle or hawk. The simple daily act of bringing the seeds outside to place in the feeder and sharing some on the ground for the squirrels is part of my daily regimen during the winter months. The birds also come to visit during the spring, summer and fall when the flowers are in bloom, or to take the lion’s share of the raspberries and blackberries out back. I’m still trying to figure out what the wild turkeys eat, as they peck away incessantly at the ground.
I am grateful to have a home again….I’ve been here seven years, the prior ten years were spent living in an apartment. Divorce brings about all kinds of losses and grieving, having to move from a family and a home I loved, hurt, but I came to find peace in my little apartment, it became home. I purposely picked this building because it was adjacent to a forest, a brook and a pond. Every morning, I stood on the little deck, with my cup of coffee, staring off into the forest…years later I learned how green is a soothing color. I practiced these things as a child when I ventured into the forest across from my childhood home. The night before may have found me being raped or brutally beaten by my parents, but the woods would distract me from these nightmares.
The woods and wildlife have always been special to me. I know now, they have been a huge part of my healing and keeping me sane, even when in a dissociative state or wracked by depression or intrusive thoughts, memories and feelings of past hurts. My staring off into the woods is my balm for healing. It is not a cure all, I wish it was…but it does help, along with music….I know I should reach out to friends and peers when in a place of hurt, but my trust has been broken one too many times, so I don’t. I’m a work in progress and that is okay.
I’ve come to realize that I have always been practicing a form of meditation, mindfulness and slowing down. I do believe we know intrinsically what we need to do, to help us heal, I wish the mental health practitioners and the medically minded folks would listen to us when we talk of what helps our mind, body and spirit. I know there are some wonderful treatment providers, but all too often, we are at the mercy of power and control, and that is not a recipe for healing. A pill is not always the answer…it may help some, but for me, let me go outside and time will take care of the rest.
Jim Hopper has some great information on mindfulness…and he’s a good guy. And how can we go wrong with Kindness????
This is a neat little article, despite the scientific jargon, bottom line, Breathe
Top-down Plus Bottom-up Integrative Treatments in Psychiatry – Psychiatric Times
Take care, Michael Skinner
As always your thoughts are welcome; contact me