November 22, 2017

Meditative trail opens in Williston

Williston Observer courtesy photo The new Cedar Brook Meditative Trail meanders in loops throughout the Cedar Brook property on Route 2A.

Williston Observer courtesy photo
The new Cedar Brook Meditative Trail meanders in loops throughout the Cedar Brook property on Route 2A.

Teaming up with a CVU senior and inspired by the Japanese healing arts, a Williston psychologist and her mental health group are about to offer a unique new service to their patients and families.

At a May 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony for patients, families and friends, Lisa Angstman, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the Cedar Brook mental health practice will formally inaugurate 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.

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 and spring, Parent brought groups of volunteers to the trail for the arduous undertaking of raking, shoveling, hauling, cutting and chainsawing. This 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.

Along with her colleagues at Cedar Brook, Dr. Angstman is delighted to start using the trail this summer. “Julia’s school project actualized my dream,” she said. “I’m excited to see its continual evolvement for years to come. A next step will be to further adorn the path with artwork and poetry shared by patients.”

Cedar Brook is an affiliation of independent mental health clinicians located at 4185 St. George Road in Williston.

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