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Nature and Community Healing: The Heart of Transformation

Updated: Aug 28

This past weekend was spent on retreat with a group of incredible women in a beautiful conservation area northeast of Toronto. As one of the retreat facilitators, I had the pleasure of leading various activities such as forest therapy, yoga nidra, and meditation sessions throughout the weekend. This experience turned out to be not only healing for the women but also for myself. It dawned on me that it had been nearly two years since I had been with so many people. After a warm opening night, I found it difficult to fall asleep. Every fiber of my being was vibrating, and it wasn't until around 3:00 am that I realized the immense power that emanated from being in the energy of 25 beautiful souls. Once I understood the reason behind my restlessness, I did some energy work on myself and eventually drifted into a peaceful sleep.

The women arrived eager to be with other women with open minds and hearts seeking solace from their hectic lives and excited about time to reflect, relax and get away from it all. Something incredible happened over the course of the weekend. By Sunday, when it was time for the group to return home, they felt a stronger connection – to nature, to each other, and to themselves. We had spent time in a liminal space, delving into our parasympathetic nervous systems, calming our minds, and opening our hearts. As a result, we departed slightly transformed. The energy was vibrant, filled with loving kindness and hope for the world.

The gift of this weekend was community or as the Buddhists refer to it, "Sangha", a community of friends practicing the dharma together in order to bring about and maintain awareness.

We are still healing from the separation and isolation created by the pandemic. Increasing time with humans is one way to overcome loneliness, but we can also achieve a sense of connectedness by recognizing our unity with other life forms--the non-human ones found in the natural world--the plants, trees, animals, sun, moon, earth, air, fire and water.

As I prepare for the year ahead traveling solo while my courageous partner Andrew Moss sails around the world in the Clipper Race, I have been thinking a lot about this. I am planning to spend time in community and in nature and to connect with forest therapy guides along the way.

With co-host Brianna Casey, Heartened Howls

In a world that often feels disconnected, let us remember the potent energy that resides within each of us and the profound connections we can forge with nature and each other. May we embrace these opportunities to cultivate awareness, foster community, and nurture our souls. As I embark on my own journey, I look forward to immersing myself in diverse communities and the beauty of nature, knowing that these experiences will further deepen our shared sense of interconnectedness. Together, let us radiate love, kindness, and hope, inspiring a world where loneliness is replaced by vibrant connections that uplift us all.

Monique Giroux, Founder, The Flourishment Collective
Nourish the Soul. Flourish in Life. Forest therapy. Yoga Nidra. Meditation. Reiki.

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