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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Walking the Trail: A Healing Journey into Autumn

Nov 01, 2019 01:48AM ● By Marilee Burrell

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

                                                            —John Burroughs

By Michael Gulbrandsen

Autumn—when temperatures are cooler and the leaves are changing colors—is my favorite time to “walk the trail.” Walking in harmony with nature expands our awareness so we can relax and let go of our stress and anxieties. It’s a way for nature to give us some much-needed healing.


Steps for Walking the Trail  

  • Before starting to hike, take a few deep breaths and collect yourself. I like to do a few qigong gathering exercises.
  • After a few minutes of walking, pause to check in with each of your senses. Feel the dirt (walk barefoot as often as possible). Look around, making sure to see all the viewpoints. Breathe in and taste the crisp air. Listen for the sound of water, of animals in the trees and underbrush, of wind in the leaves. Notice the smell of the outdoors, of flowers, leaves and damp earth.
  • Slow down to about half your normal pace and pay attention.
  • Feel the different energy zones—older groups of trees versus younger ones, and plant groundcover versus leaf cover.
  • Be in nature as part of nature. See the forest from the squirrel’s eyes.
  • Be mindful of the act of walking—every breath and every movement.
  • Stop from time to time to take in your surroundings and be fully present.
  • Ask nature for advice. Trees, rocks, clouds, animals, storms, lakes and plants all have spirit with which you can easily communicate. Pay attention to the shapes, colors and other features of the plants and animals you see. Write down your thoughts.
  • Feel the cool air on your face, hair and body. Sway your arms in the breeze.
  • Find a tranquil spot along the way to meditate and soak in the energies.

Walking the trail is not about the destination. It’s about being with nature to find some silence, clarity and a peaceful escape.

Michael Gulbrandsen is the founder of Healing with Nature’s Songs, through which he combines sounds heard in nature with Reiki and feather healing. He holds his healing sessions indoors as well as in the woods, “walking the trail.” He can be reached at [email protected] or

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