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Meditation Walk

At a May 2017 ribbon-cutting ceremony for patients, families and friends, Lisa Angstman, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Cedar Brook mental health practice formally inaugurated the Cedar Brook Meditative Trail. “Our new nature trail is not just another walk in the woods,” said Dr. Angstman. “It’s been eight months in the making.” 


Dr. Angstman has long had an interest in the therapeutic benefits of outdoor exercise and had been working on ways to weave her love of nature and hiking into her psychology practice.  When a friend’s daughter, Julia Parent, came up with a similar idea for her Graduation Challenge at CVU, “the stars,” Dr. Angstman said, “aligned perfectly.”


According to Dr. Angstman, active outdoor therapy sessions are beneficial for her patients, especially those coping with anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.  She points to a growing body of research demonstrating the neurological benefits of “green exercise,” which is physical activity that provides exposure to natural environments.  The concept is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, which translates to “taking in the forest atmosphere.” Also known as “forest bathing,” this healing technique involves walking slowly and deliberately to take in the sights, sounds and scents of nature. 

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CVU senior Julia Parent, of Williston, mapped out the trail and coordinated its construction.  The path meanders in loops throughout the Cedar Brook property on Route 2A, providing a relaxing stroll that ascends gradually uphill.  Along the way, it is lined with rocks and flowers and dotted with benches for sitting, talking or meditating. 

Throughout the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, Parent brought groups of volunteers to the trail for the arduous undertaking of raking, shoveling, hauling, cutting and chainsawing.  That spring’s heavy rains necessitated extensive water diversion efforts as well. CVU principal Adam Bunting and his student advisory group were among the many volunteers who participated in the project.


 “Julia’s school project actualized my dream,” Dr. Angstman said.  “I’m excited to see its continual evolvement for years to come."  Among the additions to the path will be artwork and poetry shared by patients.  The first poem gifted to the Trail is presented below:

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through the listening woods

by mind-sized stones a place to be

alone with the invisible singing thrush


hermited you could say if there was such

a word as if you knew you were in

St. George’s woods the smallest town


in Vermont named for a dragon’s saint

isn’t that what why you’re here, couch-

sitting, trying to learn not to slay


any fiery thought (some thoughts flame

out on their own, some mean to stay)

followed, perhaps, after the two of you say


all that is meant to be said meaning

not everything isn’t that what the thrush

is for to sing what neither of you thought


to speak how together you come to

listen to the stones a glacier brought

dragged is a truer word across Lake


Champlain you might be able to see

beyond the trail’s head, up there

the trees give way to nothing you can


name, a kind of feeling session-found

half-bird song later you can find

retrieve when you need your song


Trail Next to Your Therapist’s Office

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