BAR HARBOR—With a passion for being outside in nature and a desire to teach people to use mindfulness as a way to reduce stress, Jen Harry has started Acadia Mindfulness Adventures — a new business where she hosts two–hour outdoor, guided mindful quests.
To Harry, being open to whatever experience, whether it be good, bad or ugly, is considered a mindful practice.
“So, we’re open, we’re curious, but mostly we are compassionate to ourselves and our experience as we are going through it. We are also trying not to judge it,” she said. “I think mindfulness gets us out of our head and into our bodies and our present experiences, so we can be more present in our lives and enjoy these moments or find ways to be with them for the more difficult ones.” She added that there are ways to anchor in the present moment to help deal with challenges and strong emotions.
Harry has lived in Bar Harbor for 20 years after relocating from Pennsylvania to work on a lobster boat. “My true passion is working with people, so if I loved motors more, I might have stuck with it,” she said.
Having received her psychology degree from The Pennsylvania State University, Harry has been teaching mindfulness, meditation and resiliency skills on Mount Desert Island and surrounding areas for the past eight years.
Harry became interested in mindfulness when she worked with stressed clients at a community health center in Philadelphia. “Then I got really interested in looking for skills to de-stress, which led me into studying the methods of Japanese psychology, which is all about developing mindfulness skills,” she said.
Harry has a regular monthly group at the Beth Wright Cancer Resource Center in Ellsworth where she teaches a variety of stress reduction and mindfulness courses.
“I’ve also done workshops for the lab, I work with people individually, I just got done teaching some adult–ed classes [through RSU24 Adult Education] and an Acadia Senior College class,” said Harry.
Harry defines mindfulness as “being in the present moment, knowing what is happening in both our body and our minds as well as outside of us in our environment.” For her, mindfulness is knowing what’s happening while it’s happening but in a very particular way where people are not just paying attention to the present moment, but are practicing being receptive to whatever is happening around them at the time.
“People have this idea of mindfulness so they can meditate and be all serious but there’s so many ways we can use it and it can help us deal with all the ups and downs of life,” she said.
Harry’s outdoor mindfulness business is currently up and running. “So far I’ve taken a few trips of people and I’m able to take people out now while gearing up for the season,” she said.
For the time being, to ensure the safety of her clients during COVID-19, she is capping the amount of adventure participants at four people. “Generally, it’s small groups. I have a permit to operate in the park so I believe there’s a certain limit on how many I can take, but I wouldn’t want to take more than six right now, maybe eight if it was specially planned, but there’s some flexibility,” said Harry.
As the season progresses, Harry will be meeting people at the trailheads of various oceanside locations in Acadia National Park. Her plans are to host these excursions at Compass Harbor, Valley Cove, Ships Harbor, Wonderland and different coastal areas in Tremont. Finding a location for groups this summer will be a challenge as she hopes to host adventures in a somewhat quiet setting. Few distractions are “part of the process,” she said. She has also been talking to different businesses about collaborating and has been offering her services to various hotels.
The outdoor experience consists of an initial discussion about mindfulness, mindful walking, eating and a mindful visit to the ocean where Harry teaches clients to use all five senses for staying engaged in their mindfulness practices. She plans to wrap up the adventure with a discussion about how people can use mindfulness practices in their everyday life.
“It’s a great COVID-safe resource for both our community and for visitors this summer, which is important to be known for people who are coming to the island that are looking for things to do,” she said.
For more information, visit www.acadiamindfulnessadventures.com.