The next time you step outside your door and into the great outdoors, do yourself a favour: breathe in the fresh air.

No, like, really breathe it.

Feel the breeze on your skin and the expanse of your lungs. Absorb the aromas of the surrounding nature—maybe the soft scent of evergreen, the smell of freshly cut grass or the morning dew.

Perhaps you live in the city, where aromas are less comforting than confronting.

Put that aside and focus your attention on the nearest tree; reel it in. Feel the padding of dirt beneath your shoe or savour the crunch of a leaf underfoot.

Delta Whistler Village SuitesDelta Whistler Village Suites | Kellie Paxian

The benefits of nature therapy are immense, and any outdoor activity (such as the moment of mindfulness we just enjoyed together) can be enjoyed if you make a conscious effort to be present and appreciate the environment around you. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking are especially rewarding ways to spend intentional time outside, immersing yourself in nature to boost both your physical and mental health.

I am a big outdoor enthusiast, but my recent experience rock climbing took nature therapy to a whole new level. (A startlingly high level, but let's not dwell on that…)

I embarked on a Whistler Rock Climbing Taster with Yervana, a platform that connects explorers with local experts for outdoor adventures and a fresh dose of nature therapy. 

Kellie PaxianKellie PaxianMy initial experience of scaling the Cal Cheak crag in Whistler was a combination of wobbly knees and focusing on my breath, much like we practiced earlier, except this time it was to avoid a minor panic attack. But while staring vis-à-vis with the vertical rock face and trying not to look at the ground below me (far, far below me), I heard the voice of my guide Corey, reassuring me that this was an “irrational fear, not a rational fear”—I am completely safe, strapped in, secured, and supervised by my professional guide. Any safety concerns were unnecessary, so I could ditch the nerves and focus on the task at hand: getting my butt up the giant rock to which I was clinging.

Yervana Rock Climbing Whistler TasterKellie PaxianOnce I got over my fear of heights and the dilemma of where-the-hell-do-I-place-my foot-next, I was able to release myself into the experience in a way that was purely therapeutic, almost meditative. It’s just me and this sculpture of nature; I am completely zoned in on what’s in front of me, my mind intently focused on where to step or what to grab next, pushing my body through limits I didn’t know it had. I was connected to nature more intimately than when hiking or biking, when you breeze by your surroundings in pursuit of the final view.

“When you’re out on a hike, it’s always to get to the peak of something and then you see a broad scope of nature,” shared Corey Woolnough, who has been a certified rock climbing guide since 2018 and is one of Yervana’s trusted local adventure guides. “But on a day like today, when we’re at the crag, you spend a lot of time zoomed in, seeing nature close-up. If you looked closely at a couple spots, you can actually see the quartz crystals. It’s a closer, zoomed-in perspective of nature.”

Rock Climbing Whistler Yervana TasterKellie Paxian

During uncertain times like these, when it can feel as if youre carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, scaling a rockface was exactly the lesson I needed: sometimes you have to zoom in to find the Zen.
    

Disclosure: This trip was an unpaid collaboration with Yervana. Accommodations were provided by Delta Whistler Village Suites and coordinated with the assistance of Tourism Whistler. Kellie’s experience and opinions are her own.