Dearest friends,

Two weeks ago we finished the Canada Camino hiking approximately 150km and raising close $7600 to support food security initiatives here in Canada as well as in Ebe, Nigeria (yaaa!). Thank you all so much for your generous support in ever so many ways! It is our hope that all families around the world be able to partake in sustainable, nutritious, and delicious food on Thanksgiving and every day!

In addition to a few new offerings described below, there were many lessons learned from this rather epic hike, some of which I’d love to share with you – lessons that hopefully are relevant to all of us in some way.

Lesson Number One – Hiking in nature feels AMAZING!

I started the pilgrimage with a lot of weariness. My body and mind were tired from months of intensive work online. I had been starting to feel a kind of haze settling over my brain and my eyes were aching and tired from so much screen time. The combination of:

a) exercise,
b) time in nature, and
c) reduction in screen time

were unbelievably energizing. I felt mentally refreshed by the end of a couple of days of hiking and physically refreshed by the end of the Camino.

Suggested exercise – Get outside and walk – go to one of the beautiful forests or nature sites near you and spend a few hours if not a day walking there away from your devices.

Lesson Number Two – Taking breaks is important, even on a pilgrimage. 

After walking the first 100km, I had to return to home for a day of work. Sitting on a chair and working online suddenly felt like a joyful gift. This was a wonderful reminder that taking breaks is essential no matter what we are doing

Suggested Exercise: Ask yourself, “How can I incorporate breaks into my life?” For example,  do you need to stand up periodically or spend some time walking? Do you need to take a break from your screen? Perhaps you need to take a break from thinking and planning? Or maybe you need a day off of social media or computers once a week?

Lesson Number Three – The earth is supporting us abundantly.

Walking along the Bruce Trail we witnessed and moved through extraordinary abundance: We saw trees laden with apples and pears, wild grape vines hanging heavy with their fruit, asters reaching up to the sky with their radiant purple petals, brilliant and brittle autumn leaves falling to the ground and nurturing the earth. In every element we could see life supporting life – a beautiful cycle of growing maturing, receding, dying and growing again. Being in this environment one cannot but feel the incredible abundance that the earth is and feel that sense of being held and nurtured. It brought me directly into a state of immense gratitude and awe at all the blessings inherent in being alive on this earth.

Suggested Exercise – take time to appreciate the true gift of the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. Reflect on the interconnectedness of our body with all of life.

Lesson Number Four – “Cultivate the spirit of blessing. If you bless those around you this will inspire you to be attentive in every moment.” – Dipa Ma

As we continued to walk, often in silence,  feeling supported and nurtured by the incredible gift of the earth, there also came an awareness that the way we move upon the earth is also important. Our presence can be destructive or it can be a blessing. I chose to try to make each step a small blessing and offering of love to the earth.  I started to attune more deeply to the surroundings, noticing where the earth itself was healthy or in need of care and attention. What a joy to be able to offer prayers, blessings and healing energy back to the earth that so abundantly supports us.

Suggested Exercise – Cultivate the spirit of blessing in your life. Try to live your life allowing each moment to be a blessing for everything and everyone you touch.

And a Final Lesson for today (there were so many more!): I have an enduring, deep love for this planet and all the life that thrives upon it.

I am committed now to continue to walk gently on this earth, to honour and protect her, and to support those organizations who are already doing so.  Because of the rich learning (and joy!) that came of this pilgrimage in nature, I’ve decided to work on developing a mindfulness-based workshop series that will be delivered outdoors in nature in the spring or summer of 2021 focusing on the lessons and teachings of the land and how that ties in to the wisdom of our meditation practice. More details will be forthcoming. I also intend to continue with the Canada Camino next year. If you’d like to join us, Save the Date: September 18th – 25th 2021.  Lastly, I was deeply impressed with the Bruce Trail Conservancy for their amazing work in acquiring land for future generations of humans and creatures thereby also protecting the rich biodiversity found there. They were awarded the environmental charity of the year award by both Macleans and MoneySense in 2020 and I can understand why.

Suggested exercise:
Please feel free to donate to the Bruce Trail Conservancy so that we can all continue to enjoy a rich treasure, “A ribbon of wilderness”. Alternatively, find another environmental organization that resonates for you and support them as generously as you are able.

Peace and love,

Shira

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