Maeve Palmer was part of the Highlands Opera Studio last year and hopes to return in 2020. She started singing as a youngster in Irish festivals singing with her family. Palmer did her undergraduate and masters degrees in voice at the University of Toronto and went on to do the Rebanks family fellowship at the Royal Conservatory of Music. /HUW MORGAN Special to the Echo

The quiet and stillness

My friend and I went for a hike in the Queen Elizabeth Wildlands Park the other day. It was yet another beautiful fall morning. The air was fresh the sky was blue and the fall colours were still around us. Bright reds oranges yellows and greys and browns as the backdrop.

Eckhart Tolle is a well known meditation teacher and author and when he teaches he encourages his students to sense the quiet in the ground beneath them. The stillness.

He suggests that the quiet and stillness that is within us is what can sense it beneath us. It is a great way to start a meditation because when your mind is focused on the quiet and the stillness it is in the present moment and that is where life happens… in the now.

I’ve been encouraging my yoga students to sense the quiet and the stillness as the backdrop for every pose and shape they create in a class. Sensing feeling breathing and being pose to pose. And then observing the impact that this intention has on your mind body and spirit. It is always about studying yourself and then reflecting on what happened without judgement. And then the practice is to take that into your everyday life.

The pose might be doing the dishes or playing with your children or recovering from an accident. The poses of life are endless. So as we hiked along I regularly tuned into the quiet and the stillness that was beneath me and around me. It was a lovely way to spend a day. My friend and I would chat for periods of time and then we would walk in silence for a while. I swear I could feel my whole system relaxing settling and becoming quieter as the hike progressed.

At one point I said to my friend “I think this is what forest bathing is. Walking in the forest and letting your tensions and worries gradually dissolve into the background as the quiet stillness and beauty come into the foreground.” It is also helpful that we had to be very mindful as we walked because the mud was slippery from rain and there were lots of roots and logs to step over and around. We had to be focused. I think we were both practicing kind awareness of everything… the beauty the roots the breathing the stillness the quiet and the sounds.

Even in the quiet there are still sounds around us and we would hear birds call periodically or leaves being moved as squirrels chased each other.

Nature is such a good teacher. It teaches about quiet stillness beauty and presence. Spending even a bit of time outside is beneficial. Whether it is sitting on your porch walking in your neighbourhood or exploring some of the beautiful wilderness areas that we have in our county. It is all good. One of the many gifts of living in Haliburton County is the quiet of this time of year.

There are fewer people around generally and so it is our time to settle into all the beauty and let ourselves get filled up by it.