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I would like to try an experiment, if you don’t mind. I would like you to follow the images your mind creates and consciously experience those images. Follow through to include what you would imagine the sounds, smells, taste, textures, of these images and your own body’s reaction to them. You will look at stress reduction in a different light.
Come with me, I’m going to take a walk. It’s a leisurely stroll on a clear hot summer day. It’s early in the morning and farm chores are just finishing up. All around you the air is filled with the sounds of cattle mooing, horses impatiently neighing and stamping their feet, chickens and turkeys crowing and clucking as they scurry about after bugs. We are at the beginning of a rural farm road that winds through farms and ranches of cattle grazing in pastures of verdant green grass and fields of new-mown alfalfa hay. They share the pastures with a few shy deer that hang close to the back fence constructed of black basalt lava rock that was picked up by hand out of the pastures.
The old gentleman farmer built these fences, decades ago, and the fences are still standing straight and true. Overhead the sky is that special color of summer blue…almost turquoise, with a few light wispy clouds and a couple of Golden Eagles who circle at dizzying heights as they soar on the thermals. Robins and Blackbirds are working the pastures beside the cattle while Blue Jays scream curses from the Cottonwood trees lining the road. An occasional car or truck passes by disturbing the country sounds, but it is followed by the resumption of the natural sounds of the rural land soon after.
We are approaching a wooded area, full of a combination of Cedars and Pines and Firs, and also Aspen, Cottonwood, and Dogwood. The increasing heat of the summertime sun is sending heat waves shimmering off the surface of the road as our feet crunch in the gravel and asphalt. The weeds from the ditch smell of the dry dust that has settled upon their heads of seeds as they nod in the slight breath of the breeze passing through them. About midway through the wooded area there is a small animal trail, almost imperceptible in the weeds by the side of the road. It is there that we cut back into the woods.
The change is startling and refreshing. The heat of the mid-morning sun is replaced by the thick canopy of the branches of the trees. The cool shade is a welcome respite from the sun. The forest floor is covered with lush ferns, trilliums, and lady slippers. They are highlighted by the shafts of sunlight that pierce the verdant canopy overhead and fall seductively on the narrow path inviting you deeper into its depths. Trumpet vines hug the trunks of several of the trees and their branches, with their fluorescent orange flowers cascading across the limbs and down the trunks. The air is thick with the smell of damp rich earth, humus, and flowers and the buzzing of bees as they gather the pollen and the sight of bright-colored butterflies. Birds call out to each other and squirrels scold from overhead as you follow the trail ever deeper into the woods.
Soon the croaking of frogs and crickets, and the clattering flutter of dragonflies replace the noise from the fields and the nearby road as they entice you further. The trail is now becoming a little wider and more used as other, smaller trails converge into this main one, it has a more ancient feel to it. There is an unspoken invitation to join… beckoning each footstep to take you to a special, more pristine place…a healing place. Little by little the canopy overhead is giving way to more open sky and in front of you the frogs and a chorus of cicadas joins crickets. The butterflies and dragonflies become more profuse with each step and the ferns give way to grasses and wildflowers and reeds and cattail. The reeds and cattail have patches of water sparkling through their leaves as you continue down the path.
The trail empties out beside a pond that sits in a small glen and once again the full summer sun bathing the area with its warm rays greets you. The pond has a log that fell years ago into it and now lies jutting halfway out to the center. It is covered with map and box turtles that are sleepily sunning themselves while the frogs and cicadas sing a soothing summer-time lullaby. Lily pads float lazily on the surface of the pond, which perfectly reflects the sky and wispy clouds overhead. The deep rich smell of the mud of the pond and the grasses fill your senses. Swallows are diving and sweeping across the surface of the pond chasing mosquitoes and flies and in the distance is a blue heron that is hungrily eyeing a frog on the backside of the pond shore, while the occasional dragonfly perches perfectly upon the tip of an reed and watches. The pond lies at the southern end of the glen, and walking through the waist-high flowers and grasses we come upon an old wild apple tree. It branches are drooping with their gift of green apples, sun-warmed and tangy-sweet and crisp.
We flush a couple of doe who were also feasting on the treats and after picking a couple of apples for ourselves and walking back to the south end, they quickly reappear out of the woods to resume their meal, their tails flicking white flashes and their ears ever alert to danger. On the west side of the pond is a grassy knoll at the base of a large Cottonwood tree. The shadows underneath promising a comfortable seat as we sit and lean back against its rough grey bark. The turtles, startled by our arrival, dive into the water with an indignant splash. But soon their heads start popping up and bobbing closer to their log, and when they sense no danger crawl out to resume their nap. In the grass we watch ladybugs hastily crawl up and down blades of grass while a red-winged black bird perches on the side of a cattail and sings. And while crunching on our tangy, juicy apples, we lean back to listen.
There is no need for conversation…. to do so would be to interrupt the symphony, so we sit in comfortable silence and allow this peaceful scene to fill us with its presence. Slowly the tensions melt off your shoulders, drain from your eyes and mind as you lean back and soak up the moment and open yourself to the healing energy that seems to come from everywhere. Time seems to lose its importance and soon you start to drowse off falling under the spell of the glen. It is only sometime later with the seemingly sudden appearance of angry thunderheads crowding out the sunshine that you awaken and we are motivated to move. As we stand you notice that you feel lightened, like you left your troubles there on the ground and they were subsequently soaked up, that there is a heightened sense of appreciation…. that you were healed.
We smile and start to follow the path back into the cool darkness of the woods. The increasing humidity and the breathless silence foretell of the impending storm. As we emerge back onto the road, you are loathed to have to leave this special place and what just took place inside of you. But we need to go, to stroll back down the rural road past the farms and ranches, the distant thunder and flashes of lightning prodding our reluctant footsteps, reminding us that it is time to go home. The wind is picking up, puffing and blowing in sudden dusty gusts, tearing a few leaves off some trees, and starting to roar in the evergreens edging the back of the pastures. It carries the scent of a cleansing rain in its moisture-laden arms as well as a few sprinkles. The thunder is closer now; lightning flashes are streaking across the dark purple clouds, as huge drops of rain start pelting the landscape and us.
Suddenly lightning flashes directly overhead with an almost simultaneous clap of thunder that reverberates through us and the ground below and the lingering trace of ozone speaks to the proximity of the storm, as the sky opens up with a deluge of rain. We race the last few yards down the drive, laughing and gasping to the covered back porch drenched to the bone as the storm passes overhead. Dashing inside we grab towels to dry off and wrap up with, while I fix us a glass of iced herbal tea and returned to sit under the covered porch to enjoy the rest of the storm. Almost as quickly as it started, the rain stops, just as if you turned the handle on a spigot, and the sun bursts through the thick clouds to trace the path of a large complete rainbow across the storm-darkened sky followed by another echo of a rainbow above it. It is breath taking in its intensity. The mud puddles reflect back the bright contrasts in their pools and plants mirror their diamond reflections on the tip of each of their leaves or needles that carry a drop of rain.
Too soon it is time for you to leave, the air is fresh with the smell of rain- cleaned forests and fields, and you are relaxed, refreshed, replete. The late afternoon sun is peaking through the retreating thunderstorm and in growing patches overhead. This has been a good day! So much good has been done, by taking the time out to heal. I’m so happy you came here.
Anytime you need a break, you need to heal, you can come back. All you have to do is open your mind and recall it all. I come here often; now you can too, make sure to invite your friends.
I wrote about Fernwood, [a more shortened version] for a couple of very dear friends of mine. It is of an actual place that I found quite by accident, while I was living in the country. Each time I need to be healed or need to get away, I close my eyes and remember each and every detail. Everyone has his or her own Fernwood, if not, you can start with mine and add to it until you find your peace. Each time you walk in the woods or sit in the park or smell the rain, or see a dragonfly, rainbow, or turquoise blue sky, I hope it brings back these memories, and with it comes a longing to return.
Did you experience it? Could you see yourself there? Feel yourself there? Smell and taste? Did you in your mind and body start to experience this walk? This is where you need to be. Feel free to come back anytime. Did you know Peace and Healing go hand in hand? Thanks for coming with me on this walk.
Now I want to come back to the experiment for a moment. Did you, during the reading of this post, experience any feelings of Peace and Healing? If you were able to smell or experience this “walk” that we took, then we were able to successfully connect. We were able to share a common vision and that vision lives as a memory inside us both now…this is a common ground we both share.
Peace and Healing of all things begins from within. It needs to start as a good memory that connects to others, rippling outward in its growth, connecting and linking to others on this common ground. This is how we start to heal the Earth. We start from within; we visit our own personal Fernwood over and over again. And as we do so, we begin to heal: heal ourselves, each other, our world and outward it goes.
This common ground recognizes no religion, color, gender, or age and crosses every boundary -encompassing all things great and small. Once we get the concept down of desiring this Peace and Healing as the norm, it naturally spills out to encompass our outward lives. The next step is to naturally respect ourselves, each other and so on. Instead of dancing a Spiral of violence and death, it returns back to Peace and Healing, restoring the balance of life.
To those who say we can never find Peace, I say that is just not so. We just found a common ground, you and I, and we both found Peace in the same place. If you can find it in these words that I wrote, it now lives in your heart and mind. If it lives in your heart then it can live in your outward life and continue on outward to others. It is your choice my friend. I wish you…Healing and..
Peace and Blessings.
Location: Montague, California
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