Finding Peace in your life is as easy as a saunter through the woods. Sauntering is a nice slow, relaxing walk without hurry. No watches, cell phones, or music required. Let nature provide the music, scents, color, and peace as you slowly melt into your natural rhythm. I call nature ‘eye candy‘ – so many colors to see and enjoy.
I prefer to bring people to the woods but you can do a Mindfulness Outdoor Experience (MOE) in an urban or suburban setting, in the desert or on water. There are no limits.
Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences (MOE) allow you to slowly join in the rhythm of the forest. When we first start out participants are generally still in the busy mindset. They may have traveled to the woodlands, come from taking care of others, from work or have been in similar situations. We start out with a little getting to know one another and some stretching, maybe a meditation. This starts the slowing down process.
We ask permission to enter the woods always being conscious that as we step into the forest there is a ripple effect – unseen but just as effective as a putting a droplet or dipping a toe into water. A warning is sent out to the plants and animals that someone is entering their ‘home.” Birds will send out warning calls as we enter. At first this may not be noticed but if you pay attention you will notice how quiet the woods become.
As we slowly enter the woods we learn to place our feet softly on the earth. You could do this barefoot or with shoes. You needn’t even go far, just far enough to experience the color, texture, scent, and breath in the air. After a little while you will be in harmony with the trees – breathing in and out in rhythm with nature.
After a while everyone finds a sit spot and gets comfortable – either sitting on the ground or a mat whichever is preferred. There is a short meditation before the open eye forest meditation. This is my favorite part of the experience.
People who have had a difficult time with the slow pace will now become more aware of their senses. They notice the birds are now singing, the trees are dancing in the breeze, the chipmunks are skittering everywhere, they may notice a newt or two, leaves twirling in free flight landing on limbs above, the scent of musky scent of earth, and the sound of wind from different directions meeting in the trees. Most was not noticed while sauntering along the path.
After the sit spot everyone is called back and we have counsel to share in their experiences. It is at this point that participants share how relaxed they feel, what they observed during the meditation, and what they hope to take with them. Prior to Covid-19 we would have a tea ceremony and we look forward to sharing this once again in the near future.
What does slowing down in nature allow us to observe while sauntering and during sit spot. We begin to notice nature up close, to feel the texture of the trees, leaves, mushrooms and such. To notice the life cycle of the forest – the seedlings, saplings, and mature trees. We become aware of the light filtering through trees, decorating the forest floor. The communication between birds species, how they warn one another of predators. We notice the slow pace of nature and how everything has a time and place. Everything that preoccupied the mind prior to entering the forest is no longer important.
Let’s go out and hug some trees.
“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; life water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.”
~ Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and writer ~
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to then, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, the preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”
~Hermann Hease, German-born poet, novelist and painter.
Have you ever slowed down to notice the texture of the trees or the essence of the trees?Here are some photos from recent MOES. I don’t carry my camera during a MOE but will spend time snapping nature photos when out on my own.
Some of the trees have smooth soft bark, others look like they were weaved together, some are still standing even though they have been destroyed by insects and weather. I found the carvings on the one tree very interesting. This is not a manmade work of art but that of insects burrowing under the bark. Some trees appear to be crying as their sap runs down the folds or mixes with the spider or caterpillar webs.
When slowing down, get a little closer to see what else is living underneath the leaves or on the trees. I love getting down on my hands and knees to check out the nature’s gifts. So many shapes, sizes, and colors. There is always something worth noticing.
When it comes to dragonflies, I’ll sit for hours watching them whether while walking along the edge of pond, river back or while paddling along in a kayak. I have been know to sit quietly for hours at time until I capture these gems in flight or on a reed. Slowing down and watching them brings me to a deep place of mindfulness. Nothing else is on my mind just the beauty of this special creature.
“Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and we can reflect light in powerful ways if we choose to do so.”
Sometimes instead of looking down we must look up. Look up to the sky and watch the birds, the clouds, the sunset and sunrise. to see the stars and moon. Look up to see birds in the trees. Look up to see potential and connect with peace in nature. Allow the sun or moon to shine upon you and fill you with light energy.
Then look down feel the earth as you learn how to ground yourself to the energy of Mother Earth. Once connected you will feel that energy flows through your feet up your legs into your torso, filling your heart, up to the crown of your head. If you feel comfortable, place your bare feet on the earth while sitting or standing.
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”
~ Khalil Gibran ~
If you are interested in participating in a Mindfulness Outdoor Experience (MOE) and are within an hour or so of Albany, NY we can schedule individual or group sessions. Don’t let weather stop you. We have been in the woods during a rain storm and stayed dry under the canopy on a summer day. The sun greeted us upon our departure. Autumn, my favorite, we dress appropriately for the weather. Winter – we can use snowshoes if the snow is high and boots if not.
In the meantime, I’ll be in the woods waiting for you.
Love and Light!