Mindfulness is all about relaxing the mind and muscles, engaging the senses and focusing on the present, and there’s no better destination to practice those calming techniques than a local park. The idea for the Mindful Walk arose from the city’s Mental Health Committee, a subcommittee of the Green Drug Task Force.
“One of our goals as a drug task force and mental health subcommittee is to remove the stigma surrounding both of those issues and the need to address them and treat them,” says Andy Platt, chair of the Green Drug Task Force. “We thought a mental wellness initiative would be a good complement to what we were already doing.”
Members of the task force joined a group of student municipal representatives from Green High School, including Eric Wolford, Edgar San Jose, Michael Reik and Aaryan Qureshi, to bring the concept to life.
The Mindful Walk features 10 stations along 1.1 miles of an existing nature trail at Southgate Park. Each station includes a sign suggesting a mindfulness activity.
“I really had no experience with mindfulness before this experience,” Wolford says, adding that the students were responsible for researching what other mindfulness trails were like, as well as coming up with the language and creating the artwork for the signs. “It’s such a broad term and can be interpreted in many ways. I’ve learned that it’s really about slowing down your brain and taking in the world around you. People are so busy and stressed, and mindfulness is a way to combat those issues.”
Bob Bender, a volunteer for the Green Drug Task Force and a retired mental health professional, says there’s a clear relationship between the Mindful Walk and good mental health.
“There’s a nice pond on this trail, and one of the signs directs people to various aspects of the pond,” he says. “The signs emphasize breathing and various senses — simple things such as taking a moment to look at a tree and the shade it provides. The goal is to get someone to focus on the here and now, and nature is very good at that.”
Praise for the Parks
The city of Green encompasses more than 700 acres of parks and green space. Construction is underway on a new parking lot at Kleckner Park, and the city is considering new baseball/softball fields at Greensburg Park. The city also is in the consulting phase on concept plans for improvements to Kreighbaum Park, which could entail walking trails, a bicycle path, restroom pavilion and more.
Green is encouraging residents to attend parks and recreation board meetings, which are held the first Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m., to provide input.