About the authors
Helene Gibbens has been teaching yoga and wellness for over 25 years. After growing up in Montreal, she found her heart yearned for open spaces. Settling in the Adirondack Park in 2009, she took her yoga practice out of doors and was naturally drawn to the practices of Forest Bathing and Riverwalking. She cherishes her time outdoors skiing, hiking and quietly re-kindling her sense of wonder for all the wisdom inherent in nature.Helene is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, NY State Licensed Hiking Guide and Certified Yoga Teacher. Six years in the training industry gave her a deep understanding of how to effect lasting change through skill based learning.
Suzanne Weirich grew up exploring the woods, streams and fields around the North Country. Her passion for nature has never left her. She spent much of her career as a classroom educator, bringing nature experiences inside and outside of the classroom, as well as leading youths on weekend outdoor excursions. She enjoys skiing, kayaking, gardening and spending quiet time in the woods. Suzanne is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, NY State Licensed Hiking Guide and Certified Yoga Teacher.
The lesson of the Tadpoles:
This summer a group of friends and I were walking along a sandy riverbank. We noticed hundreds of tadpoles swimming in a very shallow area of water, along the sandbar. Each time we checked on them, we saw that as summer heat continued, the water became warmer and continued to evaporate. One day we used our hats to scoop as many tadpoles as we could out of the sandbar shallows, and placed them into a slow-moving area of the river. Someone watching us said, ‘What difference will it make? There are so many.’ One of our group members, watching rescued tadpoles swimming freely in the river, replied, ‘It made a difference to these!’
Litter Challenge: When you go for a walk, carry a trash bag and pick up some of the trash that you see.
One step at a time...
That’s the key isn’t it? One step at a time – one tadpole at a time. A similar situation took place recently when I was walking in my neighborhood. I was enjoying the beauty of the green grass and summer flowers, the bird song and a black tree-climbing squirrel. I bent down to smell one of the flowers and saw a bag with the remnants of someone’s sandwich. I picked it up and as I continued my walk I noted other litter: a soda can, a broken bottle, some fish twine. My hands full of litter, I headed back to my house to discard the litter in my trash bin. I could have gotten discouraged, figuring there’s too much trash, what’s the point? Or I could commit to carrying a trash bag each time I go for a walk and putting litter into my trash bag, knowing that I have done my little bit toward creating a more litter free environment. Yes, there’s so much litter, unfortunately. But remember: One tadpole at a time, one piece of litter at a time.
We're all in this together
We’re all in this together – human beings and nature beings. It takes each of us to create a healthy planet. Wouldn’t de-littering the grounds around us be a good way to give ourselves a nicer walk and to give back to nature for all that nature gives to us?!
Check it out
What's the purpose?
Adirondack Riverwalking, a Saranac Lake company, offers guided outdoor sensory experiences, that help us heal from the human stress of modern life and inspire us to engage in the healing of our planet. An essential part of our mission is to reconnect children and teens, schools and families with nature.
What's the Benefit?
Sensory immersion is an inherently healing practice. It’s uniqueness is that opening your senses anchors you into your body again, freeing your mind to be in the present moment, present to yourself and to the world around you. Our walks are not a hike, but a slow walk on very gentle terrain, in water or on land, where you are guided to stop often and engage all of your senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch and Taste, even your inner sense of Intuition. You experience moments of real freedom that perhaps you haven’t felt in a while. By getting up close and personal with nature, you realize the kinship with nature that perhaps you’ve been missing even more than you realized.
Research studies over more than three decades describe a wide range of health benefits from the practice of Forest Bathing including lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, a stronger immune system, reduced anxiety and greater attention and concentration.