It is well known that spending time in nature in good for you. Surrounding yourself with the sights and sounds of the natural world calms your mind, rejuvenates your body, and fosters a connection to something greater. Simply put, being outdoors is good for the soul.
But often when I feel the call of the great outdoors, I set out solo or drag a friend or family member with me into the woods. A couple of months ago I considered this and wondered: what happens when people who don't know each other very well come together in nature to share this experience collectively?
So I organized MIVA's first community hike to find out.
I was curious (and itching to get outside myself), but I wasn't sure anyone would want to go traipsing around the woods with me in January. This is Illinois, after all, and it's, well, freezing. Fortunately, Midwesterners are a hearty bunch well equipped with winter outwear. It didn't take long to fill the roster.
I partnered with Kim Windisch, a member of our community with a strong passion for art and bringing mindfulness into peoples' lives, to incorporate a collaborate art project into the hike. The goal was to help people leave their everyday lives behind for a couple of hours to intentionally connect with their surroundings.
As we ventured farther along the trail, collecting sticks and leaves for the art project, I noticed how everyone began to let their guards down. There was an increasing looseness about the way they carried themselves, interacted with each other and really paid attention to what was around us. Some were pointing out the plants, birds, and trees that we passed. Some shared the history of the place. Some quietly inhaled the cold, clean air, savoring the breath entering their bodies. Along the way, silently or verbally, each person offered their own bits of wisdom to the group.
An easy camaraderie was formed. We bonded as a group. We found shared common interests while bringing our own unique gifts to the table.
Each person that came out to hike on that winter day came to connect with nature. But they also connected with each other and with themselves. In nature, we came out of our shells and confidently embodied our authentic selves.
There are more community hikes to come and I'd love for you to join us. All you need to bring is your true, beautiful self. Follow MIVA for more details on future hikes and gatherings.
XO - Morgan