We can receive messages from the divine wherever we are, at any time. On a recent hike at Hidden Valley Preserve, I practiced wandering with intention, mindfully present to whatever may arise. What has arisen during my mindful wandering has brought me many lessons and many messages that I apply to my own life, and that I use as lessons to share with my clients.
Mindful practices allow us to name and bring our awareness to whatever may be happening in the moment. Emotion, feelings, and sensations are all part of our experience. Practicing allowance with compassion teaches us to move through what arises and accepting without judgment what our experience is showing us.
Allowing Nature to Guide Your Thoughts
The day of my recent hike I was greeted with a beautiful, cool morning. My drive was pleasant, windows open, beautiful roads in a part of the state I had not yet explored. As I parked in the small lot, I heard a roar. With all the recent rain, the Shepaug River was running very fast, very loud. The energy coming from the river was inviting healing.
Before I set out, I deliberately brought to my mind an intention of being open and curious about any emotions that I may experience. Fear was primary, as it was my first walk on this trail. The last time I had hiked I had tripped, fallen, and broken my kneecap. Being alone on a new trail brought with it the fear of a recurrence, but I nevertheless continued on with compassion for myself.
I was keenly aware of my unease with not knowing exactly where I would go and what I would encounter. This perfectionism is rooted in my childhood, always seeking the perfect grades and wanting to be in the background—essentially be invisible—so as not to cause trouble. I had never made the connection between my childhood and my perpetual worry that I will make a mistake.
I set the intention of allowing myself to simply wander along the path ahead of me, to go as far as I felt drawn to go. My hike was not intended to be long; the trails were easy and well-marked. I resisted any urge to check my cell phone and when the urge arose, I internally questioned where it came from. Was it a desire to be sure I had not missed an email or text? Or was it an excuse to not be present to nature and my experience?
The Companionship of Spirit
Greeting others on the trail, I silently blessed their journey, wishing them ease and healing from nature. Such was the blessing I sought for myself. A day off from work, time to reflect, a pull into the woods, a path along a river, a sense of knowing that there was more happening than I was aware of. Gratitude that my experience, my healing through my practices, would serve others.
When I decided to turn around and make my way back, somewhat disappointed I had not travelled as far as I would have liked, I was aware that I was gliding along with spirit at my side. Although every other hiker I met had a companion, whether human or canine, I did not feel alone. From walking along the muddy path of the riverbanks, to the carpet of pine needles beneath a canopy of trees, I was not alone.
As I came to the end of my hike, I encountered another solo traveler. She did not have a map and asked if I realized there was not cell service there. I did not, felt a twinge of fear emerge, and then offered her my old school paper map. She also asked if I saw any bears, given the warning signs. I had not seen any wildlife—and I had missed the signs as well!
As I blessed her on her way and headed back over the Thoreau Suspension Bridge to my car, I realized that if I had known there was no cell service, or if I had seen those bear warning signs, I may not have entered the preserve. Yet I did not need my phone, nor did I encounter any bears. It made me wonder—how often have I been held back by my fear of something that may never happen? This is perhaps a question we should ask ourselves each day.
I truly believe we minister and counsel where we have travelled ourselves. The spiritual journey lasts a lifetime, and I am honored to be a companion to others. Those who seek out spiritual counseling and modalities such as crystal dreaming are often looking for something deeper, something beneath the surface that is seeking healing.
Lauri Ingram, ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and a certified Interspiritual Counselor, currently offers in-person sessions in her North Haven office, as well as by phone and Zoom.