Inspiration, Meditation, and the joy in being alone at Caledonia State Park

“True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts.”
Brené Brown

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Last Sunday I decided to travel to Caledonia State Park, which is in Adams and Franklin counties, midway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg along the Lincoln Highway, US 30. As I drove for about one hour and 30 minutes, I listened to an audio book via Audible called Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brené Brown. I also listened to the rest of the book while on my hike with my earpiece in one ear, while I had the other ear free to hear the sounds of the forest.

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With fall-like tempatures, it didn’t feel much like Christmas Eve to me, but it did make me feel happy. So happy in fact, that I had a big smile on my face even while climbing up this big hill in the first part of my journey on the Charcoal Hearth Trail. This trail is 2.7 miles with the most difficult hiking and is the longest and most rugged trail in the park. As I’ve been on several hikes this year, and like to challenge myself, this was a trail I knew would test my ability. Even when I had to stop every few steps to find my breath, it was an awesome feeling once I was at the top of the hill. With Brené’s voice in my ear, I listened as I climbed, and walked through the forest.

“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.”
― Brené Brown.

I realized this year that I’ve been wanting to belong to something my entire life, just like Brené. Growing up when I was a kid, in my 20s, and early 30s, and today, I still feel like I don’t fit in, and sometimes feel like an outsider. I decided to meditate on the idea of being alone and being happy in the present moment since I started to feel very anxious as I tend to when I start thinking about my past.

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I found a spot, put down my yoga mat (the kind that folds up), and got out my phone, found my Headspace App, and began by lying down and looking up at the tree tops and breathing in and out as I calmed down and started to relax, hearing the sounds of nature, and silence. I started feeling this sense of happiness because I realized that I didn’t need to belong to any group, and I never will, because I’m not like most people. As I finished my meditiation and got up, I had this amazing feeling of weight lifted off my shoulder. The strength in knowing that I can do a hike, alone, and find it wonderful, that’s awesome.

If I didn’t mention it, I highly recommend Braving the Wilderness and will end this post with my favoite quote of the book. The human expereince is filled with pain and joy, loss, and happiness, and the hope of all to life a life worth living. I hope I can live more intentionally in 2018 and be present, knowing that I don’t belong in one place, but all places, because I’m one part of the whole of humainaty.

“The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness. It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our ideological bunkers and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt. We’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up, join and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.” ― Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

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