Reconnecting to Self through Nature and Personal Ceremony

creek-1wI had the inspiration to create SpiritWalks in 1996, while serving as the Director of the Emotional Support Program at New Mexico AIDS Services. Six of my clients were women who had lost a loved one to AIDS – 2 sisters, 2 mothers and 2 wives. Having experienced many important deaths in my life, I knew that talking was only a small part of the way through grief, and I wanted to do something different for them, something having to do with Nature, which had always nurtured me, as well as providing a means for personal ceremony. I created GriefWalk. After walking the path for several days, selecting key spots along the way for personal ceremony, the day of the Walk finally came, and it was perfect. Nature showed up in a magical way and facilitated deep grief work. These beautiful women whole-heartedly participated in opening to their pain and love. I felt so honored. If any of the women who were there are reading this, Thank You!

It was such a powerful day; I knew I had to do more. I knew it was a calling and I became passionate about it!

I soon created and developed several other Walks, and put them all under the umbrella of SpiritWalks. Though there are themes to each Walk, no two are alike. Each is catered to the individual and is different from any other.

These Walks include:


  • Who are you in your life without the loved one you have lost?
  • What unfinished business do you have with this person?
  • What qualities have you gained from knowing him or her?
  • How can you grow through this profound pain?
  • How can you take care of yourself through these tidal waves of grief?

DSC_0459The GriefWalk is a day long journey using Nature as metaphor. We will walk in the woods, each step meaningful, each step mindful of the loss, each earth symbol a message to assist you through your grief. Unfinished business with your loved one will be addressed as well as who you are now, what the rest of your life holds, and where the blessings are in your grief. (Individual or group)

Walk Your Change

Gate-wA one-on-one experience

Give yourself the gift of a full day (or two) of focused attention to your personal process in the nurturing forest. Walk Your Change is about taking your next step, and going a level deeper into your life journey. Let Nature show you what that is.

  • What is your life purpose?
  • Where are you on that path?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What is stopping you?
  • What qualities do you need to develop to walk through your resistance?

Using Nature’s guidance, we will explore these questions.

Walking Your Decades

7075a-wThis walk typically takes place at the beginning of a new decade. It involves some homework before it takes place. First you write reflectively about the decades you have lived so far – the major events, the important people, the feelings, your guides.

  • What are the gifts you received from each decade?
  • What do you want to take with you symbolically into the next decade?
  • What do you want to leave behind?

We will walk a path, walking through the gates of each decade, processing all that holds charge for you, leaving unhealthy patterns behind, and culminating in crossing the threshold into your new decade carrying with you your hopes, dreams and commitments for the next 10 years.

DSC_0308 - CopyCommitment Walk

This walk is about going a step deeper into commitment with your life partner. Let Nature show you where the stuck places are in your relationship. Letting go of old patterns that no longer serve the relationship and stepping into new and deeper ways of relating to each other will be the focus.

Stretch Your Body, Stretch Yourself Walk

This walk explores your fears and resistance. As you stretch your body on rocks, trees and soil, we will explore one thing that brings up fear for you. This could be a physical feat, recollecting a very scary time in your life, a dreaded admission of something held secret and ready for self forgiveness, or something as simple as sitting still in silence for a period of time, or perhaps meditating on the intricacies of a flower or snake. DSC_0381 - Copy

Connecting with Your Spirituality Retreat

Trees-&-gate-7621-wJoin a group of 6 – 8 wonderful women for 21/2 days in the tall pines. After intensive group discussion we will walk a wooded path, stopping at selected sites, guiding participants in ceremony to symbolize their own personal processes or rite of passage. Allow Nature to reflect your Self. Discover how your animal spirit guides can help you reawaken childlike wonder, lost beliefs in magic and your dreams and possibilities. Let the Heart of the Mother nourish your Soul.

These are possible titles or themes that your process may fit into – or not. We can decide together what your walk will be in or outside of these themes. No two walks are alike. We will create your Walk together, and see what Nature brings to assist or to change whatever we may have planned.DSC_0199 - Copy

If you are interested in a SpiritWalk, and would like more information, please contact me at mmaulsby@hotmail.com.



49 thoughts on “SpiritWalks

  1. Inspired by reading about your Spiritwalks, I just had a magical nature experience right in the heart of Brooklyn, NYC: walking to the grocery store, a beautiful oak tree in blazing fall colors caught my eye. I stopped for a moment and saw a flash of huge wings dissapear into the tree. Much as you say, follow these nudges, I did – walked up to the tree, and asked the bird to show itself. Walked a bit closer and saw a maginficent Red Tailed Hawk looking right at me from a low branch. I felt shivers of joy and gratitude! It lifted me into another dimension for sure! And, I was so happy to experience the WILD potency of nature right in the middle of the city. Thank you, Mary, for the inspiration to look and flollow!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! If you know anyone who would like to do one, let me know. There is a page with my email. I am glad you like the page!


  3. Pingback: Finding Your Own North Star | Walking my path: Mindful wanderings in nature

  4. Thank you for bringing back to the time when I could be outdoors, in the sun, spending time with brother/sister beings, communing with The Green Ones! The winter seems to go on forever, but soon I will see the snow has melted, and the buds will return as the Wheel Turns to Spring. I sit at my window watching the birds and squirrels flitting about the bushes, and scampering up the trunks of trees! I miss hearing them and mostly I miss my secret spot walks which I, only last year, began in earnest. I long to be back outside, but am basking in your words which allow me to savor the memory, until I can return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad I can help you be there. Spring will be here soon. Where do you live? Are you having mega winter this year?


  5. What a beautiful gift you offer those who are ready to heal and release their grief. I couldnt think of a better way to do this. Nature has healed me on so many levels and continues to nourish and replenish my energy daily. I wish you many blessings on this journey.


    • Thank you. I love doing them. It’s been almost 20 years since I started them. I am glad Nature has played such a part in your healing, and that it continues to nurture you every day. We are blessed to have Nature. It is weird to me how many people have never really experienced it…especially young people attached to their gadgets….as I sit here typing on a gadget!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha yes I thought the same here as I typed my comment but it is raining today, so I dont feel so bad on the gadgets! My 20 year old and 12 year old daughters often accompany me on trips into the bush and walks, Its not like they dont love their many gadgets, I just offer them another view!


      • I am so glad you give them that view! It worries me that if the next generation doesn’t care about Nature, who will protect it? Kids need to roam and explore, and they don’t get that opportunity these days. I had such freedom as a kid, and am grateful to have grown up with the chance to wander.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Hey Mary,

    Thank you for guiding me to this fascinating section of your Blog. I feel a little amiss at not having explored it prior to your mention, but confess to being enthralled by the main articles where I spend the vast percentage of my time either sitting in reverie or walking the wilderness with a delightful sense of abandonment. I am not surprised to find the assured and natural gentleness of your character being so directly involved, and greatly motivated by helping others to restore purpose and clarity as they walk a path towards personal betterment and personal fulfilment in life. It is obvious to me how caring and supportive you are, and how readily you invest your compassionate gift in the interests of serving others. You are blessed with a very loving heart Mary, and possess the fortitude and courage to reach out to others and offer warmth and friendship. SpiritWalks are an inspiration and a truly wonderful mechanism with which to address any healing programme centred on the individual, and group dynamic where a common denominator may be shared. I have little doubt your working practices bring much relief and incredible comfort to others, and offer considerable reward both to you and most importantly for those whose paths temporarily cross your own.

    Personally speaking, I find Nature relentlessly comforting…she shares herself so generously and always provides abundant opportunity to explore complexity and/or simplicity within the immediacy of her presence…both are aspects of her manifestation that reflect back the required intensity of one’s own inner thoughts. The near instantaneous appeal of pressing a bare foot upon the grass is an entirely visceral experience, felt within the body far more purposefully than perhaps it is imagined within the mind…a state of being that disposes of the superfluous and negatively effecting and replaces it instead with a new framework of understanding that have few, if any, recognised points of habitual reference from which to perpetuate current thought. The experience is one of immersion that leaves the experiencer contemplative of new, unthreatening surroundings and divested of troubles and doubts. The harmonious freedom experienced in nature is one of liberation from obligation and the requirements of daily life. I do not think I have experienced such feelings whilst immersed within an alternative environment other than perhaps open water…where it is the removal of a sense of gravity combined with the expansive, unfathomable, unimaginable and unseen hidden elements, which beguile and perplex the senses still further. Beyond that, and excluding the Yogic-like experience of achieving elevated consciousness, I imagine stepping out of a spacecraft and taking an untethered space-walk would be amongst the most direct and immersive experiences one could have. It would indeed be an epiphany.

    I recall several key periods in my life when overwhelmed with troubles and doubts and remember a generous friend providing me with a book, The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen, as an aide to wellness. I have posted on my experience of the book and won’t dwell un-necessarily here upon it. Suffice to say, the story is an autobiographical account of Matthiessen’s ‘journey’ (both inwardly and outwardly) as he and a biologist friend trek the Himalayas to a monastery located in a far flung corner known affectionately as Crystal Mountain. The purpose of the journey is primarily to site and observe the elusive Snow Leopard, the symbolic emblem at the apex of Zen Buddhist thought. That Matthiessen departs on the quest weary with grief, doubts and fears following the death of his wife adds realistic poignancy to the entire experience. His personal goals are tightly bound to inner restoration, personal elevation, and ultimately, an acceptance of his tragic loss. One follows Matthiessen in a very intimate way as he meanders around, over and under the mountainous terrain and forces his path through the snow-laden, homogenised landscape. His writing is superb, his observation and awareness of his surroundings exemplary. I mention this book because it provided me with an opportunity to walk in a majestic wilderness undefined by any reference to normality as I might perceive it, and the experience is incredibly humbling and equally as inspiring. One is divested of all (discomforting) thought and (forcibly) encouraged instead to rediscover innate relationships with nature…the sole requirement is to stay alive amidst an unforgiving and inhospitable environment of immeasurable beauty. The longer the journey persists the closer one steps towards personal discovery, and the closer one gets to an understanding of all things, including of course the emotive reconnection to the flow of natural life. I would recommend this book to everyone, it is a fabulously rewarding read, and a constant source of encouragement: a simple treasure of mighty influence to compliment any library.

    I am very grateful to follow your prompt and linger a while here…the opportunity to remember past moments permits a far better appreciation of my current circumstance, and offers an opportunity for expressing my personal gratitude for all that I have in my life, including of course, the friendship and ‘company’ of many talented, creative, compassionate and uniquely gifted souls such as yourself. I consider myself most fortunate in meeting and sharing time with all…and I sincerely wish you continued success with all of your life-enhancing endeavours. Please never forget how special you are…

    And, thank you for commenting again so appreciatively on Draconis…I shall ponder your thoughtful words and reply shortly. Thank you Mary.

    Take care. Have a wonderful Sun-day 🙂


    DN – 26/04/2015

    P.S: As I sit to muse upon your words, I might on occasion enhance that beautiful experience by listening to music. It does not and could not replace the resplendent sounds of Nature within which your sentiments are so tenderly wrapped, but rather assists in placating the mind and calming the spirit sufficiently so as to permit the impress of a Shamanic dimension to flow…companionship amongst the dappled shadows and pools of sunlight scything between branches and leaves that associate so freely with the liminal boundaries of our perception. I wonder how you might relate to these delicately haunting pieces of flute music Mary – Meditacion: Flauta Nativos Norte Americanos… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP_oZ4oU8kE


    • Hello, dear Dewin,
      As I reply to your heartfelt and thoughtful comment, I am listening to the beautiful, shamanic and relaxing flute music you suggested. It is similar to music with which I often listen and meditate. It reminds me of the Native music found around here (NM) with a slight Celtic flare when the stringed instruments enter. Thank you. I love music. Knowing that you, too may be listening at the same time is a sweet connection across the waves of ocean and sound.

      Thank you for your kind words about my work and about your personal connection to Nature. Your writing has an uncanny way of moving directly into my heart, and resting there. I feel your deep connection to Nature and I am glad you find comfort in Her. You said, ” she shares herself so generously and always provides abundant opportunity to explore complexity and/or simplicity with the immediacy of her presence…both are aspects of her manifestation that reflect back the required intensity of one’s own inner thoughts.” SpiritWalks are all about that and Nature has a way of bypassing the intellect, going straight to the feeling place. Sometimes you say what I feel in my heart with words I wish I could manifest. Do your words come easily, Dewin or do you have to search deeply for them? I want to find that place where perfect words live, because I have to dig and dig to find anything close to what I feel. Such beauty in your words.
      You said, “pressing a bare foot upon the grass is an entirely visceral experience, felt within the body far more purposefully than perhaps it is imagined in the mind.” I find that when walking bare footed, with each step I give my love to Her, and receive her love through my skin. It is a sacred exchange.

      You mentioned immersion in open water. I have often thought of doing some SpiritSwims with people maybe in Hawaii. While swimming with dolphins and whales, there is a complete immersion (for me) in the moment. Being in the state of no breath, time changes, and the moment expands. Being with dolphins and whales is…. is there an adjective for epiphany, Mr. Wordman? Epiphanitious…epiphanatious.

      Thank you for the recommendation of The Snow Leopard. Sounds like an important read and I shall find it when next in town.

      Yes, I am having a wonderful Sun – day, and we are having a rare rain for which I have been praying. I am grateful. Isn’t gratitude the best?! You mentioned being grateful for your current circumstance and all that you have in your life. I am glad.

      Thank you again for commenting Dewin.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Mary,

    Indeed we were, and potentially still are, sharing the experience of listening to the same piece of Flute music simultaneously, and in so doing, I hope building upon the connection between us still further and reducing the geographical distance between our respective lands. What a wonderful thought that is, and so carefully considered. Perhaps I might also mention that I first read your reply whilst enjoying a moment to myself walking my favourite piece of heathland en route home from the office and found the combined experience very peaceful indeed…your words, your thoughts, your soulful response heightened somehow by the gentle blush of cool greens alive beneath the soft glow of late afternoon sunshine. Had I had opportunity to trade shoes and socks for the intimacy of bare feet upon grassland, I am certain the experience would have brought me closer to intuiting the ‘sacred exchange’ between Gaia and I, which you so eloquently relate. Your writing is wonderfully rendered, very expressive, always heart-felt, and significantly impacting in its gentleness and sincerity, and I would be very grateful indeed to have that gift and be able to present my thoughts with such sensitivity.

    Words, having a life of their own, find their individual way onto the page sometimes quite independently of deliberation and effort on my part although I do spend quite some time seeking ways to express myself…little in life is given without conscious effort or determined will, and I find writing to be no different from other areas of life. I try as well as I am able to write each comment anew and direct it to the person as much as I aim to express opinion or reaction to a post. The English language is so rich and abundant, so diverse and varied, that seeking words becomes a quest all of its own…humankind has a remarkable propensity for invention and complexity and every year it seems the dictionary gets thicker and thicker as more words are added to the expanding tome in a bid to define, classify and clarify every conceivable aspect of life that finds a need to be communicated/transmitted between people.

    How I would relish the chance to be amongst Whales and Dolphins! What an amazing experience that must be. I cannot imagine the feeling, the experience, nor the magic present in the moment. I find the idea of SpiritSwims entirely refreshing and a deliciously attractive proposition. That feeling of full immersion, of ‘no breath’ and the expansion of the ‘moment’ when time and space lose all connection to the I that is me, the stillness, the peace, the noiselessness and serenity of the impressed experienced, what words are there that could adequately describe such an experience without loss or dilution of the feelings it provoked? As rich and abundant as our beautiful language may be, it will never be adequate in delineating a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. (I very much like the word epiphanatious! And even if doesn’t exist, it ‘sounds’ just perfect doesn’t it?)

    I was so pleased to read of rainfall in the wetlands…the deep gratitude in your words defines you and your association and eternal love affair with Nature. How wonderful it would be Mary if all humankind could relate as intimately with Mother Earth as you do and cherish every beat of her loving heart with passion and deep respect least we forget that without her sacred embrace there really would be no gift of life.

    Thank you for your friendship, and your inspiring company. Happy wanderings Mary! Take care and God bless you in your thoughts and deeds.

    Namaste 🙂

    DN – 29/04/2015


    • Hey Dewin,
      Ah, but you do have that gift, Dewin, to “express yourself with such sensitivity.” I am most assuredly touched by your words. The way you can intuit the pause between the writer’s thought and when pen touches paper is quite a talent. You said “the English language is so rich and abundant, so diverse and varied.” I want to feel that way. I get frustrated by how inadequate the words – at least the ones I know – are in coming the least bit close to my experiences and feelings. Sometimes they do, and I have a visceral sense of rightness and certainty of expressed feeling. Perhaps I am in impatient sort, or even lazy in that way – searching and digging for that rightness and then making up words if they don’t come within my perceived timetable.

      I am glad you find my SpiritSwims a refreshing idea. I almost did one a few years ago, but you know…life. This month my goddaughter is graduating from college, so I will go to New Hampshire to witness this rite of passage. As a present for 2 Christmases, 2 birthdays and graduation, I will take her to Hawai’i in February. I have promised her a dolphin swim since she was 8. I hope they show up for it. I try to call them in a couple of months before I go, so hopefully they will get the message! I need to swim, swim, swim to get back into dolphin swimming shape. Often you have to swim a mile or so out to where they are and then hang out with them for however many hours they stay.

      Being under water is not necessarily noiseless. All the sounds, though, are muffled, or changed in some way by the water and sort of surreal. I would love it if you would read 2 of my posts, both in the “sea creatures” category. One is called “Whale of a Time,” and the other “Loving Atlantic Spotted Dolphins.” These are 2 of my underwater times. If you feel like it…

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Dewin. I love our visits and building on our friendship. Thank you for sharing “my eternal love affair with Nature.” Yes, I do wish everyone could cherish and respect Her. I kind of don’t understand how or why many people don’t. No, there is “no gift of life for us without her sacred embrace.”

      I did pick up “The Snow Leopard” the other day, and look forward to starting it, for the story itself and also because it has meant so much to you. I know I will feel the words deeply.

      Take care, Dewin. Blessings.


      Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds very inspiring and wish I was a bit nearer. Living mainly in Southern Spain. Have liked the Cornell books and Muir walks that some folk in UK offer but your idea is very specific to personal healing and journeys.


    • Hello Navasolanature! Thank you for stopping by. Yes, they are very specific to the individual and the issues they are facing. Spain is rather far, but you never know! Nature has a good way of showing us our inner selves. I meet with people for a couple of hours first (usually the day before) to get a sense of what is going on with them. Then create a walk for them – that we may or may not stay on, depending on what Nature presents.Thanks for checking it out!


  9. hi wmp-
    walking is healing. our oldest and best form or exercise, and connecting with the nature and earth, while getting the cells zinging and “being within it all”. These mediations you recommend make those walks all the more purposeful, and therefore powerful.
    Thank you for your healing work and for your shared insights in this matrix, and in the “feeling/sensing” world.

    hugs always,
    O and OM.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you O and OM. Such a lovely comment. It really is nice to have people of like mind in this matrix. I have just returned from a week on a boat on Lake Powell. It was a powerful trip. The rocks there are ancient and wise. I will be sharing some photos here. I only took 1572 shots! I saw faces and shapes everywhere! Thanks for your comment, friend.
      Hugs right back always,

      Liked by 1 person

      • Youre most welcome.
        we’re looking forward to your photo blitz. Sounds like the sights were wonderful, spiritual, and transformative.
        Your eyes are fully open to the beauty of this planet, your camera is there to capture the sights, and your blog is here to share it with those of us who could’t be there in person with you. Thank you for that.
        O and OM.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Along My Path | Walking my path: Mindful wanderings in nature

    • Thank you, Smile. I love to do them.
      Your blog inspires me as well. Seeing all those smiles this morning, and feeling the presence of mindfulness. Have you seen Thich Naht Hanh in person? I saw him in the pictures. Did you take them?
      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.


      • i am fortunate to have spent much time with him on retreats, Mary. Yes, I took those pictures. fortunately there are many good talks available on line to both see and hear his poetic wisdom. smiles, david

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, I do listen on line to him and have read and re-read several books. To be in his presence, though. How very wonderful for you.
    Smiles back, David,


  12. Mary , I am so blessed that you found my site today ….your spirit wisdom , beauty , inspiration in this beautifully written post touches my heart …it is a good day for me to begin this walk of yours ….especially as I too am now in ” the land of enchantment ” ….(your photo looks familiar to me )
    Thank you dear Mary , love , megxxx


    • Hey Meg,
      How nice to see you here. I’m glad my SpiritWalks resonate with you. It would be lovely to have you come do one. Or, you probably do something similar with your self with your own inner wisdom as your guide.
      Peace and Love,


  13. Pingback: SpiritWalks | Spirit of Dragonflies

  14. Hello Mary,
    I hope you don’t mind that I shared this blog. This is so beautiful and healing that sharing your message was important. Should those who are interested contact you? Or, is this something they can do on their own? It feels like the processes are so healing. Also, I was wondering if you teach this to others so they can bring this back to their communities to share. Last night while volunteering in the hospital I was thinking of ways to guide family members during and after the death of their loved ones. Also, I know some people who have lost their loved ones unexpectedly and can’t seem to shift back into their life. Life is forever changed and your processes would guide them into this new life without their loved one being in the physical. Nature is always the perfect source to find your way back to you.
    It seems like the universe is speaking to me because yesterday while traveling I found a book, The Way of Transition: Embracing Life’s Most Difficult Moments by William Bridges. Hoping to read this on the weekend. Then last night thoughts of what direction to take played in my mind and this morning I reread your post which resonated even stronger this morning. You are an amazingly beautiful soul, a healer, and your techniques are a kind and compassionate way back to self. Thank you for sharing your compassionate, wise spirit with all!!
    Love and Light,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Sandy,
      I want to email you. I’m not sure I still have your email. I am going to your site now to see if it is there. If you don’t hear from me, would you email me at mmaulsby@hotmail.com
      I want to talk to you about this.
      Also, I just put a blurb on the end of the SpiritWalks page with my email. I forgot I hadn’t put that in there! Duh!
      Thanks again for sharing this.
      Blessings, Love and Light

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Yeah, I can’t find it. For some reason, my contact list doesn’t have it. I look forward to hearing from you.:)


  16. I really, really love this post. When I see images on tv or online of racial hatred I long to reach out to people who are other than me but don’t know how to do it. Creating Spirit Walks is such a beautiful way to connect to people. Thank you!


    • Hey Melissa,
      It has been a joy for me professionally and personally to do SpiritWalks. I love being in Nature anytime, alone or with people. It is sort of neutral ground, inspiring a depth of beauty in the heart. It makes for deeper connection, I think. Nice to see you, Melissa. Sorry for the late response. ❤


      • Sometimes when I am out walking a trail I will come across someone and a casual greeting can turn into a conversation. A few days ago an older gentleman joined me on my return to the parking lot and we had a wonderful conversation. What a lift that was 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  17. I love how a brief encounter/connection with a “stranger” can totally make your day! ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s