Thursday, January 30, 2020

Why Long Walks Will Change Your Life

Walking is medicine — it cures anxiety, sparks inspiration, and brings us back to ourselves

Jan 8 · 6 min read
Photo: i wen† lef†/Flickr
IIam back home for Christmas, and yesterday, on Boxing Day, I walked in the rain from my village and down into the valley, then upwards and into the woodlands. This is my childhood village — a village called Shelley in the West Riding of Yorkshire. One woodland stands above and another at the bottom of the valley. On either side of the village, farmlands blanket endless rolling hills. A patchwork of green fields bordered by hedgerows and drystone walls cut across the landscape in every direction. Wildflowers and farm animals (mostly cows or sheep) abound, and the picture is dotted with the occasional ancient farmhouse or barn.
The late sun spilled light through the trees and onto the footpath, and every so often a grey squirrel would scurry across my path and ascend the nearest tree until out of sight. Whenever you walk into the woods it feels as if you have entered a sanctuary — everything you think matters does not seem to matter all that much under the shelter of the trees. Trees are mysterious to me, like gods or mystics, infinitely wiser than humans, all-knowing, all-seeing, and we can only admire them from below.
I could have walked anywhere: along the roads, over the green fields, across the towns and cities — but I always choose the woodlands. In the woods, I walk amongst my ancestors, and I am home. Even in childhood, the woods were where I felt closest to nature’s awe-inspiring workings.
I most enjoy woodlands which are unkempt, with fallen trees and branches on the ground, brushes and brambles in sprawl, and no clear footpath. You have to find your own way through a deadly labyrinth of nettles, thorns, spines, and prickles. These wild woodlands are a fascinating reminder of what nature was like before humanity: a tangled, prickly, and venomous darkness, often hostile and sinister, but at the same time mysteriously beautiful. The wildest things are the most alive, and finding yourself amid the wilderness in an age when man has subdued every other part of life is refreshing.
AAfter some time walking along the narrow woodland path, I came across a lonely stream, which flowed through the heart of the woodlands and down the valley. A father watched over his young daughter, a happy, blonde girl, as she played with twigs and sticks and hopped across the stones that sat on the water. I smiled at the father, lunged over the water, and went onward through the trees. Some distance later, the trees stopped before a train track, which stretched across into the distance in a perfect straight line, headed in both directions for the industrial cities of Yorkshire. When I re-entered the woodlands, I was absorbed once again by the trees, the leaves, the sprays of sunlight, the crawling insects, the wet mud — the simple and forgotten things — and carried on toward the village.
During my walks, I am in a constant, slow-burning rapture.
Eventually, after about an hour and a half of walking, I reached the end of the footpath: a cricket pitch at the top of a hill in a village called Shepley — the name deriving from the Old English sceap (sheep) and leah (clearing), thus meaning “a clearing or meadow where sheep are kept.” At this point, I had a view of the entire landscape, including a full scope of my village on the hillside opposite. Beyond the village, I could see yet more farmlands and woodlands, a Victorian village church, Emmanuel Church, and in the far distance, Emley Moor, a broadcasting tower that pierces through the sky and watches over every village southeast of Huddersfield.
OOver the years, I must have walked this same route a thousand times, yet I’ve never tired of its charms. If one is attentive enough, every walk is an opportunity to see new sights and hear new sounds. On many occasions, I walked off the track and ended up in some unfamiliar landscape I never could have imagined. For the most part, the landscape of West Yorkshire is not very diverse; it’s mostly green fields and green hills that seem to stretch on forever. But on my local walks, I am an explorer, a pioneer, I am involved in the landscapes, and I notice the wonderful capabilities of the landscape to bend and fold over short distances. I learn the shapes and curves of different trees and plants, and I notice how they change throughout each season. On my walks I am in a constant, slow-burning rapture.
Usually, I walk without a plan. I have nothing to achieve; the beauty is in the walking, in the journey itself. I depend on instinct and walk interminably, one foot in front of the other, breathing in the cold air, marveling at the stature of the oak trees, nodding and greeting the dog walkers who pass me by. And then, quite suddenly, ideas arrive. Stories unfold. Meaning and purpose are restored. Beautiful words, long sentences, poetry and rhyme, answers to dreaded questions — these all come in flashing moments when I am absorbed in the landscape, in the eternity of the natural world. It always takes me by surprise, and I often regret not carrying a notepad to write my thoughts down; I just have to hope I will remember everything when I get back home.
In nature, you leave yourself behind. You are nobody in the woods. When faced with a particularly difficult problem, I find it’s always healthier to just get out of the house and go for a walk rather than trying to force the answer. For in the repetition of walking you empty yourself out, free yourself of opinion and expectation, and embody once again humanity’s innate character. In this state of emptiness, your mind begins to clear — and then the gods descend to fill the void. Freedom of movement stimulates the mind, bringing forth divine wisdom. A free body is a free mind; which is why, I suppose, the powers that be prefer we sit in offices and cubicles day and night, so that we are made forever stupid and loyal customers.
In nature, you leave yourself behind.
Indeed, like everyone else, I have days that require I sit inside the office or the library all day and work until the end. And on these days I always feel as if there is a small stove slowly burning in my stomach, a hollow pain, which grows fierier the longer I stifle my vitality. If evening comes and I have not walked far at all, then this fire cannot be contained and it becomes impossible to remain sitting still. I get so anxious that I cannot concentrate on even the simplest of tasks. My mind is exhausted but my body’s energy is idle and unsatisfied. If this energy does not find release through physical exertion, it seeps into the mind and transforms into worries, doubts, fears — what’s more, I can’t sleep, because the untapped life force whirls and spins around my mind, desperately trying to exert itself, keeping me awake. The life force I should be expressing through physical exertion turns back on my body and slowly destroys me.
I take long walks because I have a body, and if I do not use my body then I become bad-tempered and apathetic. Those who concentrate solely on their intellect and leave the body behind tend to be rigid, stern characters, and unhealthy. As far as I can tell, each of us seems to have a primal drive toward life, which finds its easiest expression in the act of walking, in the act of moving forward through the natural world and marveling at its beauty. In my experience, all anxious and depressive feelings seem to dissipate when walking along a woodland path. And if you walk far enough you eventually achieve a state of joy — a quiet, inner happiness — and you are relieved, as you have escaped the walls, the squares, the eternity of sitting, of stagnation; now you are moving over the landscape, over the hills and far away, fighting against gravity, breathing fresh air, with a pulsing heart and an appetite for flowers and sunlight. You are free in search of the springs of life. A long walk is a rebirth of consciousness; one never returns quite the same, and is always better off for it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One on One Counselling/ Two Day Nature Retreat/ Activity Program


Privacy and Confidentiality are paramount during all planned Activities!!!

         Your first session is free! Either in person or on Skype.

  • Available for one on one counseling in person or on Skype, fees are on a sliding scale

  • Separation and/or loss
  • Career Change 
  •  Difficult Decision Making
  •  Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Conflict Resolution 
  • Illness    
  • Grief Counselling
  • Mental Illness, Family Support 

  • Activity Program for folks with Compromised Health or Mental Illness - details to come!

  • Nature Walks with a Theme: Focus of Health and Movement during Summer

  • Art Circle - 4 week Program - Each person chooses their own theme and experiments with different mediums. A mix of creativity and talk time

  •       One on one care for elders living alone, my part time program includes everything that makes life comfortable from meals, to shopping, driving to medical appointments, companionship, and safety assessment. I have many years experience working with elders. I have created programs that keep the mind active, and the body fit considering limitations. 

Watch this site!! More ideas to come for summer, autumn and winter.

604 886 8097

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Returning to the Sunshine Coast with Fresh Energy and New Ideas

Hello Folks,

I will be home from Mexico on May 11 and welcome new and old clients to contact me. I look forward to planning some events that bring us wellness and was very inspired by this article.
As a hiker, I am aware of the therapeutic aspects of moving in nature. I hope to start a group that will participate in alternate ways of healing that will include art, nature, and talk therapy.

Happy Spring!


Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

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While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.
To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.
The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.
The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.
While raising children who have ADHD can be difficult for parents, the usual solution — opting for prescription medication — may be doing more harm than good, particularly when natural solutions can work just as well. A study conducted by Frances E Kup, PhD, and Andrea Faber Taylor, PhD, found that exposing children with ADHD to “green outdoor activities” reduces symptoms significantly. The results of this study suggest nature exposure can benefit anyone who has a difficult time paying attention and/or exhibits impulsive behavior.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).
Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?
Go take a hike!
Much Love

Friday, December 18, 2015

Update on Gibsons Counselling: Dec 18, 2015

The most recent comment from a client:

"It was really good to get your thoughts and feedback today and I am excited about moving forward."  S.M.


Hello Current and Potential Clients,

I will continue counselling clients in Canada using Skype while in Mexico. I expect to arrive Jan 1 and will be available for service shortly after. Contact me at any time by emailing me at

I also hope to offer one on one counselling while living in Mexico as well as some workshops and seminars. 

Our sunny environment in Mexico is an uplifting place. I will be offering two day retreats for folks who are interested in creative art as therapy, and a healing environment for rest, talk therapy and nature walks.

I will be posting seminars and programs during my 4 month stay in Chapala, Mexico.

Contact me by Skype or email! 

Skype ID   mintzy1

Happy Holiday Season, Best Wishes for a wonderful 2016

Monday, November 2, 2015



Creative Play for People with Compromised HealTH: A series of sessions focusing on activities and talk therapy facilitated by Evi Blueth, Counsellor will take place at 576 North Fletcher Rd. 

Evi Blueth
576 North Fletcher Rd.
Gibsons, BC
V0N 1V9
604 886 8097

Since everyone has different interests and different schedules I’m writing a list of activities varying the days of the week. I will proceed with any of these programs if a minimum of 4 people register and pay ahead. Please choose which seminars interest you by number and reply by email letting me know which ones you would enjoy attending. Art supplies are included. All sessions will take place at Evi’s, 576 North Fletcher Rd., Gibsons.

You are welcome to pay using PayPal (let me know and I can send an invoice), e-interact, or mail a check to Evi Blueth at the above address.

As a longtime sufferer of Fibromyalgia I feel passionate about the many ways we can feel uplifted and manage our compromised
health. I hope this group will be an inspiration to all. As a mental health rehab worker and counselor, I have been so impressed at how creativity, exercise and nature walks improve our lives and physical health. The encouragement of a supportive group where folks understand each other and empathize is not only enlivening but can prompt significant changes in mood, health and attitude.

I am including a variety of activities that engage different aspects of “self”. I hope to follow up with a very different program in the late spring of 2016.  I have space for 8 attendees, and anyone who didn’t attend the original seminar is welcome to participate.

I am also available for private one on one consultations on a “sliding scale” if you prefer.  

Program Description and Dates (day of the week varies)

1)Rubbings –Creating your own wrapping paper or original “Wall Art”.  This is an easy process, and surprisingly pleasing when colour is added, then black paint used to bring out the bright colours and patterns.

Rubbings, one of the most universal and perhaps the oldest of the techniques used in printmaking is fun, easy and creative. Rubbings are made by carefully pressing paper onto a carved or incised surface so that the paper conforms to the features to be copied. The paper is then blacked and the projecting areas of the surface become dark, while indented areas remain white.
This technique can be personalized by bringing your own textured objects from home, a colander, kitchen items, sand paper, jewelry, or anything with a distinct pattern that is bumpy or ridged in some way. You can also select leaves or items from the garden (press first with a book).
$22.00 per person

2) Nov 14: Paint on Silk 1:00- 4:15: Learning how to use Gutta as a resist to create stunning designs, abstract impressions, or colourful paintings on silk stretched on a hoop. All supplies and instruction provided. Each person will complete a round silk painting stretched on a hoop. I will show how the steaming is done so you can achieve brilliant colours. You can do this at home, or during our next session. The silk dyes need to “rest” for 48 hours before steaming. $40.00 (silk, dyes, hoop, and all supplies provided.

3) Thursday Nov. 19: 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm – This session will focus on exercise, as little or as much as you can do sitting down or standing up. Bring a mat or blanket. We will do gentle stretching. Each person will go at his/her own pace. A guided visualization will be followed by a discussion on self-care and check in. How is each person doing with the attainable goals they established?

4) Writing Workshop: Thursday Nov. 26 – 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
We will begin this session with simple stretching exercises. People are asked to bring a quote that inspires them. Anyone wishing to share the quote can do so. We will then place topics in a hat and do a series of 10 minute writing exercises. Anyone wishing to read their writing is welcome to. The session will end with a discussion on any obstacles or difficulties we are experiencing. Brainstorming and supportive “talk therapy” will follow. We will discuss how therapeutic journal writing helps us heal.
$15.00 per person

5) Dec 10 Thursday (Last Session) – 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm
Painting on white cloth bags. Carry your groceries in a self-made work of art! All supplies including beige heavy cotton bags provided. Make someone a gift, or create your own art bag. Learn different methods of printing and painting on cotton.
We will have a short check in following this last program. Bring treats to share if you like.