Sunderland, Tilton libraries partnering on series of mindfulness activities

  • The view looking south from Mount Sugarloaf. The Sunderland and Tilton libraries are inviting residents to take some time to slow down their lives with mindfulness activities on and around the mountain. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Monday, September 26, 2022

The Sunderland and Tilton libraries are inviting residents to take some time to slow down their lives with mindfulness activities on and around Mount Sugarloaf.

With Mount Sugarloaf overlooking both communities, the libraries are bringing the program series “You Are Here: Connecting to Nature at Mt. Sugarloaf” into their backyards with four activities starting later this month and ending in October.

“Sugarloaf, I know it’s in Deerfield, but in Sunderland we feel a strong connection to it and I know Deerfield feels the same way,” Sunderland Public Library Director Katherine Umstot said. “Our communities both feel a shared ownership for it.”

Tilton Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin said the partnership was born out of the uncertainty of COVID-19 cases, which led to the library wanting to hold outdoor programs. She said mindfulness is a good thing for people to practice.

“I think mindfulness is a term that’s in the mainstream now. Especially as we’re getting life back to ‘normal,’ our schedules are getting busy again and we’re running around,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “Quieting down is an antidote to all that busyness we’ve gotten back to.”

Each program is available for a limited number of participants and the tree identification walk has already filled up, but waiting lists are available. To sign up for a program, visit the Tilton Library or Sunderland Public Library’s website.

“We’re really excited these programs have been so popular and are filling up,” Umstot said. “Even before the pandemic, there was a need for mindfulness for all ages. … Now, post-pandemic, it’s gone tenfold.”

The first activity will be family yoga at the top of Mount Sugarloaf on Sept. 22, from 10 to 11 a.m. Yoga instructor Sara Coblyn will lead families through mindfulness exercises as they take in the views of Deerfield and Sunderland.

On Sept. 23, in collaboration with Sunderland-based Adventure East, people can hop on a bus at 5:30 p.m. and go for a stroll through the woods in a “forest bathing experience,” where folks can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the forest.

“The idea of forest bathing is to take a mindful approach to being in nature,” Umstot explained. “Experiencing the power of nature and the peace, and finding a little bit of stillness in your life.”

On Sept. 27, from 5 to 6 p.m., participants will embark on a tree identification walk around the base of Mount Sugarloaf. The walk will be led by Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary teacher Laura Beltran, who will teach attendees how to identify trees, as well as how environments are changing.

The round of programs concludes with nature-based mindfulness yoga on Mount Sugarloaf on Oct. 15, from 10 to 11 a.m. Coblyn will again lead the program.

Bradbury-Carlin said the libraries planned to “give a spectrum” of nature-based mindfulness options, and offering these types of programs is another way that libraries can serve their communities.

“The library could be thought of as a place of literacy for reading,” she said. “But you can bring literacy into a lot of things. … I think what we’re doing here is wellness literacy.”