Practice Lab: A mindful walk in the snow

5 Mar 2019 8:49 AM | Michael Kelberer (Administrator)

by Keri Galbraith, MBSR student

A foot of snow has fallen, all the trees laced in finery. You walk through virgin snow, feeling the crepitus in your feet, drumming up your leg bones, softening as it migrates into muscles.

Entering the wooded trail, you stop to take a full breath of fresh winter air—feel the cool enter your nose, slide down your throat and swirl into your lungs.

You’re surrounded in isolated hush. The only sounds are your footsteps crunching snow. You are alone in the woods, most remain huddled warm in their homes. But there are others here, snow reveals tracks of deer, coyote and squirrel traversing the trail. You wonder how they survive the bitter northeast winds. How they find food.

Turning onto a less traveled trail, you follow along a pebbled stream. You hearperhaps for the first timethe symphony of water: its agitated tremolo-notes as water rushes downhill over stones and logs, and later the sound mellows into a low humming as the land levels.

You smile, feeling the lift in your eye muscles. As the smile reaches your core, a wash of gratitude bathes your being. You walk into it.

Strolling across the hill, you notice how scalloped patterns of snow contrast the raw umber of fir bark, and the long striations of cedar¾how easily it offers itself.  You are struck by the artistry. Silently saying ‘thank you’.

Crossing over streams, each are filled their own song. You stop and listen, now a conversation with an old friend.

The afternoon snow carries more weight of water, silence is now touched with syncopated plops and thuds as clods of snow release from laden limbs. You turn and begin to walk uphill, again feeling a crunchy crispness underfoot. You hear a loud crack close by. Your eyes dilate, quickly scanning for falling trees. You hear your heartbeat quicken in your ears and feel the pulse of energy. Should I run? Hold still? Will I be struck by a tree? What feels like minutes is in fact a nanosecond. A maple branch plummets to the ground some feet in front of where you stand. You inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale then slowly straddle over the branch and walk on…

Thinking that even here, in the midst of exquisite beauty, there is danger and death¾it is all one.  An easy smile comes. You walk toward home. 

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