While I was working for awhile at an outdoor store in Victoria, British Columbia, I met many customers who were setting off on big expeditions and pilgrimages in the hopes of self-healing. A lot of these trips were overseas in Europe or Asia and cost a lot of money in airfare, lodging, and preparations. Upon their return, I noticed that when I asked how their trips went, many of the travelers were fairly unsatisfied with the results of their long hikes and travels. It got me thinking.

Most of the time, we are not focused on the present moment. We spend our time thinking either forwards or backwards, and a lot of these thoughts are tinged with negativity. We worry about what didn’t get done yesterday, what we need to do this afternoon. When was the last time you asked yourself, what did I truly enjoy about today? When was I truly present and looking, listening, hearing, feeling what was around me in the moment? Maybe you have asked yourself those questions but aren’t sure how to fix the problem.

I grew up in northern Ontario, went to school in social work and worked on First Nations reservations (I am a member of the Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek, or AZA, First Nation). I became deeply invested in helping young people, especially indigenous youth, overcome and succeed in their personal lives. When I began working with young people on Vancouver Island, I realised that mental health challenges were not unique to life on remote reservations, but a common theme with young people here too. Anxiety, depression, addiction are holding our young people back. And as I worked with special needs youth who were challenged by autism, FASD, ADHD, etc, I realised that their anxiety and/or depression were exacerbated by what was often a complete lack of time in nature. I wondered how anyone could possibly feel better by staying indoors every day while living in such a beautiful place on earth?

Mindful Hikes Comox Valley has been slowly growing as I recognized that a combination of mindfulness practice and time spend in nature has the potential to change peoples lives, very simply. No need for plane tickets to Spain. No need for hours spent sitting in a closed-off room in meditation. Just our own beautiful Comox Valley backyard and some help experiencing the present moment. After a lot of consideration, practice and learning, as well as some time putting this concept into practice, I am so pleased to see the positive results of “mindful hiking” first-hand. I am so pleased to offer Mindful Hikes to the Comox Valley region, and I am excited to continue to grow with the community.