Muladhara

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Today’s focus is Muladhara chakra (Root chakra). In the Essential guide to Chakras, they describe this as your foundation. To balance this chakra is to connect with the earth, feel comfortable in your own body, enhance stability in your life and get grounded.
In the mornings, I usually perform self-abhyanga (ayurvedic self-massage, using warm oil). Focusing on balancing the root chakra, I used grounding essential oils. I was inspired by ila’s chakra blessings (hopefully one day I will be able to experience them in one of their amazing spas)…  And with my ila Heart of the Earth CD playing in the background, I made my own massage oil, using grapeseed oil, vetivert, patchouli, and Embrace from Saje (which is a lovely blend of ginger, jasmine and patchouli). Of course getting massaged by someone else feels better, but even a self massage can do wonders for your wellbeing!:) It’s a form of self-love afterall. 🙂
With my body warmed up, I followed with an hour and a half of Shiva Rea’s Muladhara Solar yoga practice (from her Chakra vinyasa course) followed by meditation. (The chakra book also has meditations specific to each chakra). The yoga practice focuses on grounding asanas, as well as balancing ones. The practice ends with delicious hip opening forward bends, marinating in each pose for about 2 minutes. The rhythm is slow and steady, which feels like the Earth’s heartbeat. Savasana  is long and very grounding…a deep sense of sinking into the earth, rooting down, letting go…I burnt ila spa incense in the background, to add more grounding to my pratice. There are lots of youtube videos out there on yoga postures on each chakra. With root chakra, just think grounded, balance, stability, rooted into the earth, letting go…
Before bed, a foot massage is in order (I posted a short foot reflexology treatment you can do for yourself here , with the same oil blend I used this morning. Foot massages before sleep can be very relaxing and help you get a great night’s sleep.

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Right before bed, I practice alternate nostril breathing (which I described in a previous post here, and I actually practice The breathing practice for this chakra is deep and slow inhale through the nose and long exhale through the mouth (again, think letting go, a deep surrender to the Earth), followed by the meditation on Muladhara chakra described in the chakra book. This is where you use an image called a yantra that you gaze upon during your meditation, and focus your attention on the shape, colour symbols and sounds associated with the specific chakra. This maybe sounds a little complicated at first, but it really isn’t once you practice.

Again, be mindful of what works for you if you are going to try this, and consult with your doctor first if you have any medical conditions.

Hope you all have a beautiful, grounded, peaceful day!

Balancing the Chakras

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‘To live life is not merely to breathe, it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties, of all those parts of us which give us the feeling of existence.’ – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There is a lot of theory behind chakras, but basically, the chakras are vibrational zones through which energy flows in our bodies. They each affect certain parts of our system and behaviour, and they are believed to be goverend by a specific colour, element, perception and sound.

In order for us to be healthy, we need to make sure all the chakras are in balance, so energy can flow smoothly through pur entire body. When there is an imbalance, our overall wellbeing is affected.

I do this a couple of times a year: I spend a whole week focusing on balancing the 7 main chakras, using yoga, meditation, massage, sound, and aromatherapy. There are spa and health retreats where they do this, but I find that even my mini at-home diy retreat helps me a lot.

There are many books and videos and articles on the chakras. One of mt favorite one, the one I follow during my practices, is ‘The Essential Guide to Chakras’ by Swami Saradananda. Each day, I will post the little practices I do to balance each chakra.

Please not: If you decide to follow along, keep in mind that if you have any medical condition or are pregnant, you need to consult with your doctor before trying anything I mention. Everybody is different, so be mindful of what works for you.

 

Gratitude

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One practice that has always made a big difference in my life, is starting with some gratitude first thing in the morning. I used to write in a gratitude journal, but the truth is after a few months, I found my mornings so busy that I felt too rushed, so I would skip the journal…A day here, a day there…then it became a week…then a few weeks…

I was not going to give up on this practice though, because it really does set a great tone for the rest of my day. I just found a different way to practice it, that could fit better in my morning routine.

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Now, first thing when I wake up, when my eyes are still closed, I practice a short gratitude meditation. In that first moment I realize I am awake, that moment I am aware of my breath again. I think of all the wonderful gifts in my life and allow myself to FEEL how this gratitude fills my heart. Then, I set my intentions for the day, and let them sink in, like planting seeds.

The thing I found about gratitude meditation is that you really have to FEEL it, not just think of the things you should be grateful for, not just writing them down or saying them out loud. The real benefits of gratitude meditation come from that FEELING in your heart you get when you are truly grateful for something.

I once tried a gratitude practice I learned from Dr Pratima Raichur (she is such an amazing woman!!!), where, in a quiet place, you begin by listing some of the things you are thankful for in your life. Then, you meditate on losing these things…your home, your health, your ability to walk, your sight, your loved ones…anything that is truly precious to you…and then, one by one, you imagine receiving these gifts back into your life- FEEL  the full effects of these reunions, FEEL the deep gratitude you have in your heart. That is what gratitude meditation should feel like…That humbling realization that all these amazing things in your life are such precious gifts! Nothing should be taken for granted… This is such an amazing practice, but Pratima says it can be quite intense for some, so use a little caution if you decide to try it.

I hope you all have a beautiful day, filled with much love, happiness, peace and gratitude! ❤

Note: First image source: Pinterest.

 

Little things

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At the beginning of this year, I started a journey towards a more mindful life. I wanted to find ways to achieve a more balanced sense of health and wellbeing, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

I still have a long way to go, but I have learned a lot. I didn’t notice it right away, but now, as I reflect upon my days and compare them to how I would have gotten by a year ago, there is a definite shift.

It’s easy to get information nowadays on health and wellbeing, but not always easy to incorporate them into your day, and also figure out what actually works for you. I am the type of person who gets really excited about a project, and takes on waaay too much from the beginning. I do well for a while, but then life happens, and I completely stop. I lose my momentum. I realized it is because I have always had pretty unreasonable expectations.

This year I tried something different. Each week, I tried 5 new wellbeing/mindfulness/healthy practices….Pretty small ones…small enough in fact that sometimes I wouldn’t even notice that my routine was changed at all…but little by little, my life has shifted.

I started each week with 5 new practices. For example: breathing exercises for a few minutes every morning, yoga for 20 minutes every morning, body brushing every day, journaling before bed. I tried to keep them up for a whole week, and then noticed what worked and what didn’t…What made the biggest impact in my day…and at the end of the week, I commited to the one practice that I felt was the easiest to keep and made the biggest impact. I carried that practice into the next week, where I tried 5 new things…and so on…

Months later, I have accumulated all these small new habits that I realize now have become a fluid part of my day. They are my routine, just like brushing my teeth when I wake up. They were such small changes…in small increments, almost unnoticeable…but now, I realize just how much of a difference they have all made.

Everyone is different, and what works for me will not work for someone else. I think this is why it is so important to always be open to learn and grow and be mindful of what feels right and what doesn’t. Accept change. Embrace it. Be grateful for every experience.

One last note, which has probably been the most profound for me this year, was realizing how negative my thoughts really were. I am still a work in progress, but I have definitely improved the quality of my thoughts this year. I realized that we really have no control on the future. No matter how hard we try and do our best, we cannot control the outcome. We sometimes have the illusion that we do, but we don’t. We can control our actions to a certain extent (laws of physics and nature still apply…unfortunately, no matter how much I want to, I still cannot just spread my arms out and fly…)…The ONLY thing we can control in this life is our thoughts. We have unlimited possibilities. We can dream so big!

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Image Source: picturequotes.com

Why do we chose to dream of negative things, of worst case scenarios…when we have all this potential…why not dream and think of the best possible case scenario!! Why not think of beautiful things that make us happy, of things working out instead of going wrong?  If you cannot control the outcome no matter what, why add to your stress by living worries of things that might never even happen? Why worry and stress over things that HAVE happened, that you can also not change. It will not change the outcome either way, so why not think positive in the meantime, and when the time comes, just deal with things in the moment.

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Image source: Pinterest

All you can do is your best in every single moment, whatever your best is at the time. That is all. It is when we attach ourselves to a certain outcome that we become unhappy….because we think things should go a certain way…and sometimes they don’t…If we just did our best and then tried to let any expectations go, we would be much happier.

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Image Source: heartcommunicators.com

In the next days, I will post the little shifts I have made that have worked for me. You may try some of them and see if they work for you. Maybe you already do them..or maybe they are not really for  you…or maybe they will inspire you to look for other ways to improve your day and your life.

For now, let’s all just dream big, do our best and let all expectations go!

 

 

 

Stop and smell the roses

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“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which their heart first opened.” ~Albert Camus

On Sunday, we had a million things to do…errands to run, house to clean, laundry to do, groceries to get…On our way to the grocery store, we stopped at a local farm fruit stand and bought a big box of fresh blueberries and two boxes of raspberries…and then my husband and I looked at eachother and we both decided to put our plans aside and go for a picnic and a walk in nature. We walked on trails, we had a picnic under a big shady tree and stuffed our faces with berries for dessert….

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Then we walked some more, and we arrived at the rose garden.

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There is something so relaxing about spending an afternoon in a rose garden, on a warm, sunny, summer day.

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While my husband and our older daughter relaxed in the grass, I walked through the garden with my younger daughter, went around every single rose bush and smelled all the roses.

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We admired the different colours, the different textures, and of course, the slightly different scents of all the roses.

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I watched my daughter, who was in complete awe of all these beautiful flowers, the way she got excited about all the different colours and completely mesmerized by the fragrance. Her world is filled with wonder.

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Funny enough, it is the exact same world I live in, only I take too many things for granted… She ran with so much excitement and stared at every rose, and stuffed her entire face in each one, to inhale the intoxicating fragrance.

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I followed her… I hadn’t felt like this in a while…that beautiful expansive feeling of a fully open heart… We spent quite a bit of time, going around the entire rose garden, stuffing our faces in roses and roses and roses.

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We eventually walked back to the car and drove home…House chores will have to wait till the next day:)

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What about you? What fills your life with wonder? What makes your heart soar?

Moments

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May you notice when you are happy.

May it be a golden place in the center of your chest.

May it turn up the corners of your mouth without your permission.

May a laugh escape before you can hold it back.

May you be the blue sky.

– Kate Bartolotta

I saw this quote up on Project Happiness, and it really struck a cord with me. It got me thinking…Life is not this big solid moment, it is made up of all these little moments, all tied together. Some of these moments are filled with love and joy and happiness and others are filled with grief, sadness or fear. We tend to focus so much on those moments that cause us even the smallest level of discomfort (like getting all the red lights on our way to work) and yet when it comes to the small things that bring us joy, we rarely even pay attention.
I was thinking about this on my walk today. With mindfulness, you can notice all the small happy moments that otherwise just pass you by unnoticed. When I walk, I go through a million thoughts (shopping lists, to do’s, wishes, worries, things I am excited about). Yes, I am grateful and appreciate the beautiful scenery, but I haven’t REALLY stopped to notice how these things I am noticing actually make me FEEL. On this day though, as I walked, I looked around at the roses…

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…red, pink, white just cascading over fences and their beautiful fragrance lingering in the air, and I thought to myself…. THIS makes me happy…just looking at these beautiful roses puts a smile on my face…inhaling their beautiful fragrance, puts a smile on my face… then I continued with my usual thoughts
…..and then I came across a pond with a beautiful white swan.

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As I stood there, the swan came right up to me…and again I thought…THIS makes me happy…admiring this beautiful, graceful white swan…and I smiled and then continued my walk…and thoughts arose again, about my daughter’s school, about what meal I should make, about a lost puppy sign a saw posted on a pole… Then I walked by the playground and heard children laughing and saw them playing…so much joy and made me think of how much my daughters love playing at that playground…and just thinking of how blessed I am to have my two daughters made me happy again…When I got home, I hugged my little one and we sat together and read a book…and I smiled and thought …this is LOVE and HAPPINESS…right here, right now, I am noticing it.

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“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘IF THIS ISN’T NICE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.'” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Meditation Summit Free Access

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MEDITATION
SUMMIT
Deepen and Expand Your Meditation Practice
with 30 of the World’s Leading Teachers

via Meditation Summit Free Access

I thought I would share for those interested in deepening their meditation practice that tomorrow (June 14th) is the beginning of  The Meditation Summit, which is an online course on meditation and mindfulness with 30 of today’s leading teachers and it is free of charge to attend!

Over the course of 10 days, 30 meditation teachers from diverse traditions will be offering teachings and guided meditations to help you deepen and expand your own practice.

I hope you can all join me on this journey! It sounds amazing and the registration is free! (Just click on the link above)

 

Living in Rhythm – Summer

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“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.” – John Muir

With summer just around the corner, I decided to put together a few things I have learned throughout the years from my homeopathic and Ayurvedic doctor, my acupuncturist, and several books I have read (Shiva Rea’s book “Tending the heart fire”  is one of my favorites) on how to live in rhythm during this season.

According to Ayurveda, summer is a Pitta season (the fire and water element). This is the season when the earth is most dry and when it receives the maximum solar energy. All this radiant light is activating, but it can be depleting at the same time. There is a blissful, yet lazy quality to a summer day. This is the time when we need to seek relaxation and more stillness, practice cooling activities and favor dry, but nourishing foods.

Summer is a time of joy and celebration. This is when our inner child can break free and play. This is when nature is expansive and abundant and has a way to nourish all our senses: waking up to the sound of birds singing,  the warm sun on our skin, bright colours all around us, fragrant flowers in full bloom, an abundance of sweet tastes…

Here are some ways to live in balance during this season:

  • Counteract excess heat and over-stimulation by incorporating practices that bring you relaxation and calm. Meditation, alternate nostril breathing, relaxing yoga practices are all great ways to bring more calm into your life.

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  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous physical activity,anything that adds too much heat, like intense aerobic workouts, and favor stimulating, yet cooling activities, like restorative walks in nature, swimming, yoga focusing on fluid backbends….Enjoy the outdoors, but preferably in the morning and after 4 pm. Try staying cool and indoors if possible when the sun is the strongest, between 11am-3pm.

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  • Bask in the  glow of moonlight. The moon is considered cooling, plus, a walk under the moonlight is a perfect way to relax after a long, hot day.

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  • For food, according to Ayurveda, in the summer  it’s best to eat lighter, smaller meals. Increase sweet, bitter and astringent foods, and avoid spicy, sour and salty foods. There are many lists of foods to favor for Pitta-pacifying diets that you can find online, and also foods to avoid. Include cooling drinks and raw foods, mint teas and fresh berries.

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Photo from: “Eat Well, Be Well: Ayurveda Cooking for Healthy Living” by Lois Leonhardi (banyanbotanicals.com)

  • For the body, make your own rose water face/body spray, have cooling rose milk baths or peppermint and milk baths.

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Image Source: lifesprit.com

  • Here is a really wonderful bathing ritual I once read in Om Magazine:
    The idea was based on “wishing boats”, which are little floating vessels made out of natural materials, into which you place flowers and candles along with your hopes and wishes, and then set them off into the water. To recreate this at home as a bathing ritual, run a bath, add some rose petals and light a candle. Soak in the tub and visualise letting go of all of your worries and tension. As you focus on the flickering light, allow feelings of abundance and joy to flow through you.

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Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whltravel/5632140146

  • Give yourself a slow, loving full body massage after your shower or bath, using essential oils like lavender rose, sandalwood, jasmine or vetivert.

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Image Source: livestrong.com

“Wander a whole summer if you can…time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” -John Muir

PS: I am not a professional. These are just tips I have learned from various sources, in my own experiences. Everybody is different, so what may work for me will not necessarily work for everyone else. Please consult with a professional if you have any medical conditions.

I Love You

 

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“Love should be like breathing. It should be just a quality in you – wherever you are, with whomsoever you are, or even if you are alone, love goes on overflowing from you. It is not a question of being in love with someone – it is a question of being love.” -Osho

Today, after my morning walk at the beach, as I sat down on a log for my daily meditation, I decided to focus on love. Love is such a beautiful, warm feeling and it should be celebrated every day. It is like an invisible, unbreakable string that connects us all. Today’s meditation was on love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness… for myself, for those I hold dear, for those who make me uncomfortable, and then for all beings.

I remembered a story told by Denise Leicester a while back. She talked about a Guru in India asking his audience : “Where is love?”, and someone answered: “Love is in my heart, Baba!” To which he replied: “You make Love very small and you very big….” He then continued : “Love is unlimited and love is everywhere, in every molecule; it is the energy that sustains creation. Human beings are like a beautiful strand of pearls – the thread that connects us is love, and both forgiveness and compassion bring us back to this simple truth.”

I believe we are all love. Love is our essence, our nature. There is this beautiful connection we all have with eachother. We can see it all around if we pay attention. It’s the compassion we feel for someone we don’t even know, who looks like they are going through a hard time, it is the helping hand a stranger gives you when you are in need, it is someone across the globe reading your blog and thinking about you and wishing you the best, even when they never actually met you, it is a warm hug from your children or spouse, a sympathetic smile from a friend, a kind gesture from a stranger who sees you are struggling, a letter from someone you wronged and has forgiven you, perfect strangers welcoming forest fire evacuees into their homes … Of course these are just very few examples, but we are all love and love is all around us…The media tends to focus so much on stories that inspire hatred and fear that I just think sometimes we get a little lost in negativity and forget to pay attention and realize that there is a lot more love than hatred. We just need to go inward more often and remind ourselves who we truly are.

On that note, for today’s meditation, try focusing on love.

Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose.

Now move your attention to your heart. See if you can sense your heartbeat. Focus on a feeling of warmth radiating from your heart center, like a little spark.

Now affirm loving thoughts for yourself. Next, imagine someone you love. It can be more than one person. Affirm the loving thoughts to them now, as if they were standing right in front of you. Next, try to affirm loving thoughts to someone you may be holding feelings of resentment towards. To finish, affirm loving thoughts to all beings.

Feel how the warmth that started as a little spark has now spread through your entire body.Let this feeling flow freely through you. Feel how your whole body is light and love ❤

Now come back to your breath. Take a few deep breaths, then wiggle your fingers and toes, and open your eyes. ❤

‘I will reveal to you a love potion without medicine, without herbs, without any witch’s magic; if you want to be loved, then love.’ – Hecaton of Rhodes

Life goes on

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“Place your hands in the soil to feel grounded. Wade in water to feel emotionally healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun and connect to that power to feel your own immense power.” ~Victoria Erickson

I have written before about my love of nature, but how can I not feel so much love for something so beautiful and healing!

Last week we just got back from Whistler. We go there quite often since we live only a couple of hours away, but it’s usually just for the day. This time we went for a whole week. That is all I wanted for my birthday…to immerse myself in nature, together with my family, for an entire week! We did a lot of exploring, hiking, climbing, swimming, and even playing in the snow, we had picnics by the lake as the sun was setting…and of course, there were moments of doing absolutely nothing.

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I like to go off the beaten path usually. I really love to be surrounded by the wild…and the raw. It’s where my soul feels completely free! As John Muir said: “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” There is such a profound message when you are in nature: everything is perfect exactly as it is.

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The first few days it was cold….about 3 degrees Celcius for the high. We hiked through forests COVERED in lichen, protected from the half rain/half snow. It was beautiful! The air was so clean and fresh and crisp and it was so quiet. We came across beautiful lakes, and we just sat there and enjoyed the silence. Here, on top of these mountains, life felt so peaceful and calm…completely oblivious of what is going on back down there in the cities…all the traffic, the noise, the hustle and bustle of every day, the chaos… We had left it behind for now…like we found the pause button and here time stood still ♥ I felt so free and timeless. There was no sense of hurry here, no noise…a place where you could just be.

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One of the forests we hiked through looked like it had burned down in the past. The bark of the trees was completely charred, but some trees were still standing. Among them, new plants were now growing, where the old trees that didn’t survive the fire were once standing. What a beautiful reminder of how life keeps going…even after destruction and devastation, there is new life that grows. There were so many beautiful flowers in this forest, purple, white, yellow, even wild roses, and the most beautiful soft pink and lavender-tinted grass, which I had never seen before! ♥ …hard to believe that not long ago, this very place was all in flames, and was now bursting with life again! Life keeps going…

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As the days got warmer, we took the gondola up the mountain where there was still lots of snow, and had snowball fights with our girls. It’s so much fun to just let go and be a child again!

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We also hiked to see the train wreck. It was a nice hike through the forest, along the river, past a waterfall and some really amazing scenery. I think you can get there by taking the train tracks, but what would be the fun in that? Plus you would miss the river, the canyon, the waterfall… This train wreck is pretty wild! Parts are even hanging off the cliff. Apparently it derailed and crashed through the forest many years ago. It was too expensive to clean up, so it was left here. People have now turned it into a place to do bike stunts and Whistler made the area ‘graffiti approved’.

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On the last day, we hiked to Rainbow falls. It’s a really fun hike, quite steep but absolutely worth the adventure. The water was so clean and the air was so fresh! We just sat on rocks and let the mist from the waterfall cool us down from the steep hike we just did. It was rejuvenating!

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There is just so much to explore and so much to learn out there, on this wonderful planet! No matter how chaotic life may seem, nature, to me, is the place that feels most healing…it’s that comforting feeling of coming home, where you can be exactly who you are, wild and raw, and that is perfectly ok. Everything will be ok. Life goes on…

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