Holy Wisdom Monastery is known by mindfulness and meditation practitioners for its quiet, contemplative retreat center. It is also known by outdoors enthusiasts for its walking trails through 130 acres of restored prairie, wetland and oak savanna. Soon Holy Wisdom might be known for its one of a kind meditation trail which brings meditation and land restoration together.
Holy Wisdom Monastery is installing small decks for meditation in different restored plant communities around their property, all connected with a walking trail. Toby Grabs, director of operations, elaborated, “There will be six platforms total, one in a pine woods, another in a cedar stand, a third in a mixed coniferous-hardwood forest, a fourth immersed in prairie grasses, and finally two on the edge of woods, one overlooking a garden and apple orchard, another overlooking a glacial lake.”
Dean Proctor, an architect, landscape designer and volunteer at Holy Wisdom, is helping design the trail. Proctor suggested the idea of the meditation platforms as a part of the monastery’s master plan and said of the idea, “As an experienced retreatant at Holy Wisdom, I felt that creating small, comfortable, private places for guests to sit, meditate, reflect, or rest close to the ground and in the outdoors could be a supportive experience.”
Each platform will be four feet by eight feet and a simple deck-like structure. The size was chosen so the platform wouldn’t feel too large to a single person sitting in the middle but large enough to comfortably accommodate multiple people or someone doing yoga on a yoga mat.
Grabs is not aware of a similar concept elsewhere adding, “Connecting meditation platforms by trail and situating them in specially selected and different restored plant communities will be a unique and meaningful experience.” Holy Wisdom Monastery will be providing guidance to novice meditation practitioners in the form of a meditation trail map and brochure which will be available to groups or individual retreatants staying at the monastery.
Holy Wisdom is partnering with Healthy Minds Innovations, a nonprofit affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and started in 2014 by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard J. Davidson, to produce the guided meditation brochure. The meditations come from the freely available Healthy Minds Program App. Nicci Fite, chief of staff to Dr. Davidson said about this partnership: “Healthy Minds Innovations is driven by a mission to translate science into tools to cultivate and measure well-being so we were honored to provide the guided meditations text for Holy Wisdom’s new meditation trails.” (Here is an example of the type of meditations featured.)
The meditation platform materials are being covered by generous donations from Holy Wisdom Monastery community members while the physical platforms are being constructed and installed by local scouts as part of their Eagle Scout project. Grabs explained, “Emery Engling, a boy scout from Troop 140 in Middleton contacted me and I told him about the idea and he took it and ran with it.” Grabs continued, “He completed the first three platforms in May and the second scout, Sam Gustafson, also from Troop 140, is planning to have the final three platforms done and installed on October 27th.”