Feb 20

Guide: Barbara Hamm

Barbara Hamm
Barbara Hamm
Brookline, MA
My Website

About Barbara Hamm

Nurturing Mindfulness in Nature: A Journey of Discovery and Healing ~ In the genesis of my mindfulness voyage lies a pivotal moment—the hospital where I worked as a clinical psychologist founded a Center for Mindfulness and Compassion. I was among the first cohort of clinicians to become trained and join the staff. This was during a period when I was most actively involved in international disaster relief and post-conflict humanitarian resource work. The immersive week-long sojourns into silence, held within serene meditation centers, an integral component of my training, triggered a newfound ardor for practicing amidst nature’s embrace.

The simple act of walking the land, each step an awakening, became my ritual. It evolved into a practice of heightened senses and profound awareness—both an anchor during my travels and a testament to the latent beauty and possibility of hope concealed within even the most desolate landscapes. Thereafter, every opportunity I had to take my practices outdoors I took. This was the moment when I embarked on the transformative path of meditation and mindful practice in a much more embodied way than I had previously.

As I have aged, I have found myself wanting to walk long distances and commune with the land. Through multi-day journeys, my rhythm settles into the rhythm of the landscape, my essence intertwining with its own. The act of walking became an awakening—a corporeal and spiritual revitalization. Initially, these paths led me across global pilgrimage routes, but more recently, my exploration has unveiled the marvels of the terrain around me, especially the undiscovered inner-city greenways that now beckon.

In the subtle cadence of a leaf-stirred breeze or the play of sunlight upon a kettle pond, I discover marvels that rival grand mountains and expansive seas. This is not a celebration of enormity but an acknowledgment of the sublime in the every day—a dance of cityscapes mirrored in water’s embrace. Although I continue to have a private practice which is most often held in an office, when the work is stalled or we are at a crossroads, I may invite us to take a walk or to stand or sit outside quietly together: breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds around us, touching the earth. This simple shift from indoors to outdoors brings us in touch with the elements and often opens us up to the possibility of change and to the peace that can come from embracing life’s transient nature.

Today, I extend these nature-infused mindful encounters—an offering of solace and growth—to those who bear the scars of violence, maltreatment, mortality’s shadow, or the decline of the physical self. My recent training as an Awake in the Wild Teacher reaffirms my commitment. It aspires to weave mindfulness and meditation with our earthly roots, nurturing love, and reverence for all living beings. These practices are threads that weave stories through time, stitching together historical fragments to evade the erasure of experience. As I extend these contemplative sessions, I hold firm to the belief that they become sanctuaries—both for those who partake and the diverse tapestry of life they inhabit. In the gentle embrace of nature’s arms, we find healing, renewal, and unity.