I took a long therapeutic hike through Joaquin Miller Park today. It’s been a few months since I’d been there so it felt deeply provoking to soak in the cold damp air, the rustle of leaves and the high pitched groan of the swaying redwoods calling to each other across the forest like whales in the ocean. My mind managed to run everywhere, revisiting the steps of the last few months, the people I’ve lost and the moments I celebrate.
I came equipped for a long afternoon wandering the trails with snacks, water, camera and a cup of coffee. It’s Sunday and sunny and warm so the park was littered with dogs and people running, biking, power walking and gossiping. We were all out in the world practicing something for ourselves. I really had little intention but to cleanse myself of the negativity I’ve been carrying lately but today took it’s own control and became a day of remembrance, gentleness, and celebration. There was no room for self-judgment so I as people ran by, biked up hills, walked their dog, I practiced walking silently like my friend, Susan, taught me, the way the Lakota do.
I thought about her and Sally a lot as I walked the trails rolling from the sides of my feet and how much the three of us have struggled to find a place for ourselves in the world. I yearned for their company today, out in the innocent world, soaking in the whispers of the air through the trees, the birds and the singing streams. My mind finally quieted down and I could just exist here, one foot in front of the other with myself and my invisible friends. I inadvertently heard a soothing chant repeating in my mind when it ran out of things to think: “Om mani padme hum…Om mani padme hum.” In the last few days, it has come to me quite often, strongly and without actual attempt. My brain seemed to know what it needed to say to itself in order to cleanse it. It still runs behind my thoughts. And when I collapsed on the couch when I got home, I fell asleep to another repeated chant, involuntary weaving a spell on myself, “Love for self; love for others. Love for self; love for others.”
I very much needed to release whatever I was able to release today. Bits of the stress of court last week, of not having a stable job, of potential poverty, of isolation have become inconsequential and I’m hoping to keep this positive mindful flow going. My body and mind seem to do it for me if I give them the space.