The CMHC men's hiking sessions met weekly over the course of 5 weeks in the months of March and April to provide men a space for mental health through community, mindfulness practice, and intentional relationship building with the natural world. The group learned techniques to calm and regulate the nervous system in the midst of a global pandemic so that they could participate in life refreshed and ready. Each session began by inviting participants to pair up and converse about a prompt such as "what was a silver lining of the pandemic" as a method of building trust and a sense of community. The group then practiced mindful awareness by bringing attention to the sounds, sensations, and breathing experience of the moment.
During one session, we practiced mindfulness together next to a pond where spring peeper frogs were gathering. We rested our attention on the sound of the frogs as our relationship with nature and sense of calm deepened. One participant commented that "The men's hiking group has been healthy for me to attend. The themes and concepts in conversation during the class helped me relate to those who attended. Now when I go for a walk outside, my senses are tuning in to the sounds more."
The session continued by exploring ways that nature can support healthy mind states such as using nature to let go of an unhealthy thought. The sessions concluded with participants sharing reflections. Many participants noted feeling calmer, energized, and recharged. One participant remarked, "I have a better appreciation for nature and its abilities." The CMHC men's hiking group provided a space where men could gain a sense of resilience in community, relationship with nature, and mindful awareness practices.