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How mountains connect you to yourself

Once a upon a time when I was young (how’s that for way to start a story!) I was hiking with a group of friends in the Himalayas of Nepal.

Magic abounded around almost every corner.

Off the beaten path, we saw a rhododendron forest like I’d never seen before.  Tall, lush, fully in bloom.  These bushes were thick, quiet, holding the sacred presence of the ages. Our Nepalese guide told us this forest was hundreds of years old.

Remembering it now, I quiet.

We walked on a bit more to find ourselves stumbling on shale, the fragile rock interfering with our walk.

The mountains were stark. Unrelenting. Sacred. A different, powerful kind of presence.

Then I heard a sound like I’d never heard before.  From behind I felt this presence of sound and turned.

Utterly magical. 
Birds, moving in formation, dancing overhead, gathering up speed, turning, slowing down – in unison.

One of the women with us whispered: “murmuration.”  Starlings. Startling.

How do they do it?

I stood there. Mesmerized.

No one spoke.

We absorbed.

And absorbed.

Talk about the twists and turns…of life.

Words are hard to describe the majestic beauty and connection of a murmuration. You can find videos online capturing the phenomenon. One of my favorites is a video captured by wildlife cameraman and travel journalist Dylan Winter. 

These mountains, huge, vast, literally rock solid yet also fluid, were thousands of years old.  They had seen it all. Felt it all. Been with people walking, the earth quaking, snow, ice, rain, and sun.

Connected below they reach for the heavens inviting us to navigate the space in between. 

They are the expression of an Unshakeable Core.

Those mountains, and many since, have gifted me with the felt experience of being solid, steady, secure.

I just needed to learn to draw that inside me instead of only marveling at it on the outside.

That’s the quest I have been on through these decades since: how to build a solid, steady, secure self inside, one that can be with the turbulence of life, the treachery, confusion, distress of life as well as the joy, fullness, and wonder.

It’s what I integrated into what I call the Transformational Model, pulled from the teachings of attachment theory, trauma treatment and the ancient wisdom traditions.

What I’ve learned over these many decades is there is a path from where you are no to where you want to go.

It’s the path to connection with yourself while thriving in relationships with others.  We do that building a solid, steady, and secure self inside…able to be with the highs and lows of life with equanimity, goodness, compassion, and love.

It comes from knowing what you’re upset about.  Taking that upset as a signpost directing you where you want to go.  It’s the heroine’s journey, attuning to yourself, recognizing what you need, using that to open the floodgates of inner wisdom to orient you to the life you want to live.

May you welcome the twists and turns of life to grow, develop and flourish.

How mountains connect you to yourself

Deirdre Fay, LICSW

Deirdre Fay, LICSW, has decades of experience exploring the intersection of trauma, attachment, yoga and meditation, teaches “a radically positive approach to healing trauma.”  An international speaker and workshop leader, Deirdre has written Becoming Safely Embodied (Morgan James, in press), Attachment-Based Yoga & Meditation for Trauma Recovery (W.W. Norton, 2017),  co-author of Attachment Disturbances for Adults (W.W. Norton, 2016) as well as the co-author of chapters in Neurobiological Treatments of Traumatic Dissociation.  A former supervisor at The Trauma Center, trainer for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute from 2000–2008, she’s also certified in Internal Family Therapy, qualified trainer in Mindful Self-Compassion, former Board member of the New England Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation which add depth and understanding to these practices. Deirdre is a respected international teacher and mentor integrating trauma, attachment, yoga, and working safely with the body. Visit her website to get a FREE Safe Guide to Healing Trauma.

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APA Reference
Fay, D. (2020). How mountains connect you to yourself. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Jul 2020
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