Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

Kripalu Mindfulness Outdoor Experience Guide & Life Coach – Get Outside. Go Within.


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Forest Bathing in Winter

Connecting with nature in the winter is refreshing and invigorating. It’s good for the physical body, mental health, and your spirit. The participants start off with stress of travel, some a little concerned about the roads, what happened prior to the event, what is going to happen after the event. We start off with introductions, stretching, setting an intention, and giving gratitude for the forest as we enter. Most love the idea of having an individual experience in a group setting. We start off sauntering and opening our senses to the scents, sights, sounds, tastes we encounter along our journey.

Each participant is given a magnifying glass to check out the mushrooms, tree bark, snow flakes, and more up close and personal. About half way through we stop for a sit spot, participants can connect with a tree or grab a mat to sit on. Sometimes they may prefer to sit on a large stone or fallen tree. In winter we don’t sit as long as we would in warmer weather. After the sit spot, I invite them to join me for a tea ceremony. Generally we enjoy Blackberry Sage which smells amazing.

Adults and children have enjoyed the experience. By the time we are done they are hugging trees, down on the ground looking in the holes in trees and in the ground, checking out mushrooms, ferns and moss with their magnifying glasses, and finding a connections with nature. Adults have as much fun making snow angels as the children. We all have a little childlike spirit within and the walks encourage exploring that side of us.

We check in after the event to see if they realized their intentions. There is a general consensus that a sense of peace and calm has been reached. Sometimes participants stay for quite a while after the walk and share what they discovered in the woods and about themselves. As a guide, being in nature, sharing the experience with others is always uplifting. When everyone leaves I love to return to the woods and give gratitude for the experience.

If you are interested in joining one of my walks or would like to schedule one at a location you are familiar with please email me at spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com.

Love and Light


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience / Forest Bathing with children

When children are outside in nature they seem to thrive and enjoy exploring their world. When guiding Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences / Forest Bathing Experiences I like to have a wide range of ages participate. Sometimes having children with adults can be challenging depending on the participants and the parent’s expectations. The children always seem to enjoy being in nature.

After taking my grandchildren out into the woods to explore, giving each a magnifying glass to wear around their neck, ended up being a great learning experience for all of us. It didn’t take long for them to get down on the ground to explore. They were looking up close at clover, bark on trees, insects, grass, twigs, and more. That is when I decided to purchase more magnifying glasses to share with the participants in my walks. These little ones were almost 2 at the time.

Now, no matter the age, everyone is invited to take a magnifying glass along with them. The ‘big’ kids seem to enjoy them as much as the littles.

When visiting my daughter in Colorado, we walked along trails at Red Rocks Amphitheater. My granddaughter, age 3 at the time, enjoyed checking out the red rocks. As you can see she was very inquisitive while exploring. Don’t expect to rush a child with a magnifying glass. We saunter along at their pace and enjoy the experience, mindfully aware of the moments, never knowing what we might discover.

Children who have participated in the walks have been in an age range of 18 months through 18, ‘big’ kids into their 80s have joined as well. Fun is had by all. It doesn’t matter if we are in the spring, summer, fall, or winter season children have joined along. By the time we are finished they are hugging trees, crawling on the ground pretending to be lizards, squirrels, or rabbits, caressing moss, creating nature Mandalas. Friendships are made.

The photos below are from a walk a Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, NY. The youngest on this walk was 18 months and the oldest was 4 years old.

In the winter you never know how many will participate depending on the weather. At Grafton State Park in Grafton, NY three children came with their Moms and friends. The youngest was 2 and the oldest was 9. The two year old’s Mom wasn’t sure they would be able to stay the whole time but her little guy participated in the sit-spot and was the first to notice the birds in the trees, he was hugging trees, on the ground checking out squirrel holes in the trees, and doing everything the other two children were doing. There was not one complaint about the cold – it was quite frigid that day but fun was had by all.

Sometimes I bring tea to share on the cold days. The Mindfulness Outdoor Experience / Forest Bathing walk at Mount Greylock in MA was a perfect occasion for some tea after our sit-spot. Sometimes the parents/grandparents are surprised when the children stay engaged the entire time, explore the area, sit quietly during the sit-spot, and find the quiet and saunter a pleasant experience.

If you are in the area and would like to schedule a Mindfulness Outdoor / Forest Bathing Experience please send an email. Some walks include a tea ceremony, all walks include a sit-spot. Depending on the weather and temperature the sit-spot can be anywhere between 10 minutes to 25 minutes. Dressing appropriately for the weather and knowing that you may get a little dirty are very helpful for a joyful experience. You will find peace and calm along the way, as well as some health benefits for body, mind and soul.

Love and Light


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Vision Boards and Reaching Goals

May you find joy in 2023 – with all of the ebbs and flows we will face in the new year remember to find your still point and find your joy.

Do you prepare a Vision Board as you slide into a new year?

Or, do you prepare a Vision Board at different times of the year for different areas of you life?

Do you set goals for yourself?

Have you experienced synchronicity?

At the beginning of 2022 I hadn’t heard the term End of Life Doula or Death Doula but while at Kripalu Center assisting with a Level I Mindfulness Outdoor training, two of the other assistants and I were conversing about things we would like to accomplish. I shared about my experience at the local hospital providing Therapeutic Touch (TT) sessions to patients and some were ‘actively’ dying. Sometimes when arriving a nurse may ask if I would mind going to a certain room where a patient was ‘actively dying’ and would benefit from a TT session. It was such a pleasure to be there and hold space, provide a TT session, and just sit with those at the hospital who were either suffering from an illness or actively dying. Speaking of this feels a little morbid but someone needs to be there for support and guidance. I shared that I wanted to find a way to continue doing this with those dying, with terminal illness, and for their loved ones. Knowing this would have been helpful to me and how I felt Hospice was supportive but not really present during my mother’s last days I wanted to learn a way to be that support.

In my younger days when working as a Housekeeping staff I was so frightened to walk into a room and see someone in the process of dying that I quit. When my own father was dying in the VA Hospital I panicked on his last day. After saying good bye I didn’t return to the hospital until right after his last breath. When my mother died 26 years later, we sat by her side in a bedroom in her own home. We held her hand, played her favorite music, sang and read to her, and held space for her. The difference in experiences between my father and mother’s death was like night and day. Of course he was only 61 at the time and I was 26, which made this more challenging. But, truthfully when is watching a loved one die ever easy. There is always loss and grief.

What I wanted to learn is how to hold space, the signs the body is approaching death, how to be there for the family, for the person who is terminally ill facing their own death, to be present for the grieving. After sharing this, the two assistants sharing a dorm said why don’t you become a Death Doula.

A WHAT?? This was actually a thing?

Yes, a Death Doula or more appropriately an End-of-Life Doula. Not focusing on the ending but on the life in between. Those precious moments when the sunshines and the room fills with rainbows from the sun catcher in the window or the shadows display in beautiful shapes along the wall, the sound of birds singing, the warmth of the sun on the skin, the cool breeze, the green grass or white snow, the sound of children laughing, a hug from a loved one . . . It is in those special moments that we actually live.

After the Mindfulness Outdoor training was over and I returned home, I started looking up how to become an End of Life Doula. Added this to my vision board and pursued finding a way to learn more. It took a little time and research, there are no actual rules or regulations on practicing as a EOL Doula but there are some trainings available. I reached out to the University of Vermont in the fall but the training was full. I registered for the Spring training but asked if there was a cancellation to please add me to the fall session.

Synchronicity – meeting the right people at the right time to guide you, registering for a training and discovering someone backed out so there is an opening for you to attend in the fall. Then sadly, two weeks before my training started, as I am reading the required and suggested books, find out that my sister-in-law was given 4 weeks of life. I reached out and asked if she would like me to visit and share TT sessions. She was a Reiki Master so was thrilled that I was going to come. I met with her seven times over the four weeks. Reading my books and taking the first classes was helpful for this situation. It allowed me to know what to expect, to hold space, to see the stages her body was going through as the last day became closer, to sit with her children/grandchildren, to listen to her goals (even as death approaches you will have goals/dreams), to provide TT sessions, massage her hands and feet, add essential oils to her diffuser, and anything else she needed. After the TT session she would be relaxed and fall into a deep sleep. She died at home surrounded by her family. I was still in the middle of my training and had wished to have known more but felt that she received what was needed at the time. Her family members were there and all provided her with the support needed in her final days. She was at peace and not afraid at the time of her death.

This is what I hope to share with others in the future. I reached my goal in 2022, without knowing at the beginning of the year this was even a real practice to share with others. I now hold an End-of-Life Doula certificate from The University of Vermont. Although there are no rules or regulations at this time, we know what is expected of us and are ready to hold space and provide comfort for the dying and their families who face loss and grief.

For 2023, one goal is to become certified as a Therapeutic Touch practitioner. Although practicing since 2014 under the guidance of my mentor, Sue Conlin, I still need to complete the application to be certified – for the second time. All of the hours plus have been completed, the research completed, the trainings completed, and yet I haven’t sent in the request for certification. Hoping Sue and the other practitioners will hold me accountable this year. I also plan to find a way to incorporate the End-of-Life Doula practice with Mindfulness Outdoor Experience and TT. This is a work in progress and one I look forward to sharing in the near future.

Feeling grateful for the synchronicity that led me to the path of this certificate – to Donna, Stephanie, the woman who backed out of the training, and The University of Vermont educators. Always holding a place for Norma in my heart – grateful to her for allowing me to practice being an End-of- Life Doula and being there to support her in her last days. May she rest in peace.


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Forest Bathing – Mindfulness Outdoor Experience

For the past two and a half years, even during Covid shutdown, guiding people in the forest has been a very rewarding experience.

We have meet up in several locations over the years with very different experiences based on the weather. These locations have included: Rensselaer Plateau Alliance forests, Dyken Pond Educational Center, Mount Greylock State Preserve, Pine Hollow Arboretum, and Grafton Lake State Park.

I personally love being outside in all weather but Fall and Winter are my favorites as I enjoy breathing in the clean crisp air. Participants who come out in the rain and snow always surprise me and make me feel grateful for the opportunity to share the experience with them.

Forest Bathing in Autumn

The participants are encouraged to have an individual experience within the group setting. This allows time for each to explore on their own in silence. Yet to maintain a feeling of being safe while in the woods. There are times when walking in the woods alone may frighten some people and keep them from enjoying the many benefits. Walking in a group allows them to experience time in nature without being overcome by their fear and anxiety. With everything happening in the world lately, taking the two or more hours outside exploring allows them to unplug, relax, take a breath, and enjoy the moment.

A quiet walk in the woods

The slow pace of the walk allows time to stop and take a closer look at all the ‘beings’ residing in the woods. To find patterns, textures, designs. To listen to the sounds of the singing birds, owls, gurgling of water, wind rustling the leaves. To enjoy the sunshine, colorful shades of greens, blues, browns, reds, oranges and array of other colors within this special world.

Forest Bathing allows one to forget about time, issues, and when out long enough to slow down the constant chatter of the mind. Being out in nature – whether the forest, desert, or near the ocean, stream – allows the body and mind to slow down, lowers blood pressure, decreases the stress hormones, and opens one to more creative thoughts. Possibly they will make new discoveries or remember of times when life was simpler.

The participants discover mushrooms of varying sizes, colors and textures as well as moss and lichen.

Autumn Walk – Mushrooms are everywhere
Winter Walk – still mushrooms are found

When guiding a group, in my backpack I like to carry small mats for everyone to have for their sit spots, magnifying glasses which allow them to get a better look, a first aide kit, my own water, bear spray, bear horn, cell to keep track of time so others don’t have to, and a thermos of hot tea with small cups. The goal is to have participants focus on the moment without any thought of what they might need, or worry about what they may have forgotten. The necessities are my concern and they can stay in the moment. It is highly encouraged to leave the cell phone off or on airplane mode. This way, the hectic world is left behind.

Guiding the group

After a while, when the perfect place presents itself for a sit spot, I stop and hand out the little folding mats. Everyone is invited to find a place that feels comfortable to sit or stand for around 20 minutes. In the bitter cold this time is shortened to 10 minutes or until someone shares they are too cold. Once in their position, we sit quietly in open eyed meditation. Once we are quiet birds, chipmunks, squirrels or other critters will visit. Once in a while we may see a deer or other animal. If we are lucky an owl might begin to hoot.

Can you find the participant at their sit spot? In this case their lying spot.
Another participant at their sit spot and the other near the log lying on the ground

At Pine Hollow Arboretum we actually had china tea cups to share with participants for the tea ceremony. No matter the weather, a tea ceremony is always welcomed but especially in the winter.

China cups for a Tea Ceremony in the snow

Once the sit spot and tea ceremony are complete, we get together for a Counsel Session. Participants are invited to share anything they noticed, felt, heard . . . It always surprises me to hear what they have to share about the experience. One thing that they generally have in common is a new sense of peace and connection to nature.

The more you can get out in nature, the more you will remember that you too are nature. We are all connected. Nature is healing, nature raises our vibration, enhances our senses, brings a sense of peace and simplicity.

If you are interested in joining me on a Forest Bathing / Mindfulness Outdoor Experience please let me know and I will share upcoming events.

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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Connecting with Mother Nature

Children Enjoying Nature

Two of my younger grandchildren enjoyed getting down on the ground with their new magnifying glasses and Mimi (me) enjoyed spending time with them exploring nature this summer. They discovered the shapes of the leaves, tiny insects unseen until viewed through the glass, the texture of mushrooms and bark on the trees, and the layers of earth.

After visiting with the littles I decided it would be fun to share the magnifying glasses with participants for the Mindfulness Outdoor Experience. We discovered that adults love them as much as the littles do so they have become a part of the experience. If you get the chance grab a magnifying glass and go out into nature to see what you can discover.

Some of the participants shared that they remember doing this as a child and wondered how they had forgotten how interesting and relaxing it was to get up close and personal to Mother Earth. Others lost themselves in the experience – forgetting time. It was just as fun for me as a guide witnessing their reactions and watching them explore.

When we move through life too quickly we miss a connection that is healing to the body, mind and soul. Those who walk or run for exercise looking down at their cell phone or checking their watch to see how far they went, to keep track of the time, to chat or text with someone never allow their body and mind to relax. They miss an opportunity to destress, to relax and enjoy the moment. Sometimes I see people running through the path and wonder if they ever really ‘see’ what is around them. Do they enjoy the sights, sounds, smells. Do they notice the textures, the small insects enjoying the flowers, the little newts wandering along the path. For to allow yourself to slow down you gain so much joy and appreciation of life. This feeling can be retained when you learn how to find this still point during chaotic life events. This is a gift that nature has taught me – finding my still point when life seems chaotic.

While slowing down in nature you begin to notice the colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, textures, scents, and hidden gems hiding in, on, and under leaves, flowers, bark. You realize there is life within the forest and begin to want to respect and protect Mother Nature and all who share this home with us – those without a voice who give us life.

As you begin to slow down you lose track of time, demands, worries and your body begins to relax. You begin to lose yourself in the moment as your body flows from space to space. After you remember what joy you found in nature as a child, or understand what you missed by not being in nature as a child.

Seeing With New Eyes

By getting up close and personal with nature you exercise your eyes, your muscles, your lungs as you breath in the fresh air. You begin to understand your reciprocal connection to Nature. Everything is connected. The tiniest of insects is living because there are flowers, leaves, trees. The mushrooms and fungi bring new life and restore the soil. As you breath out carbon dioxide the trees breath it in and as they breath out oxygen you breath it in. What a beautiful life giving connection we have. Almost like a dance of life.

After sauntering and exploring, it is time for our sit spot. Everyone finds a tree, rock or place they feel comfortable. We are very still and quiet with eyes open as we take in our surroundings. Our senses have begun to open and we hear new sounds – see movement near and far – begin to smell earth, leaves, flowers, trees – feel the textures of the dirt, leaves, bark nearby. Our bodies are very relaxed at this point in the journey and we settle in as we lean on a tree, sit on a rock or sit on the warm earth. This is when most of the participants enjoy a personal experience while in the midst of a group setting.

After our sit spot we gather for counsel and participants are invited to share our experience – anything they noticed while sauntering in the woods, while looking through the magnifying glass, or while sitting quietly. Sometimes the sharing are very insightful.

Sometimes as you sit quietly you may have a little visitor as I did while sitting quietly next to a pond. Not just one but several dragonflies over the 20 minutes or so that I sat quiet and still. Some would brush along my hair while in flight. Others sat on my hand, my arm and both legs – not at the same time but over and over again. It was a magical time for me, the lover of dragonflies.

Dragonfly Visiting Me At The Pond

One of my most exciting times of the month is guiding the Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences. Discussing forest bathing, mindfulness, grounding, centering, meditation, sauntering and sit spots is so enjoyable. Hearing from participants about the knowledge of trees, insects, moss, lichen, land formations, Druidism, Buddhism, soil, and more always adds to the experience. No one is an expert at everything but we are all experts in something. This is why I love the diversity of the groups and when they are willing to share. We always have a poem or quote to share that seems to be perfect for that days experience. It always seems magical and this is the way I want to live my life.

I will share that last year while out sauntering on my own I had a couple of very interesting interactions with animals. One time with a deer and another with an owl – both lasting quite some time.

This little deer was enjoying the apple tree as I was walking out of the tree line. There she was just enjoying her meal on a nice sunny afternoon. At one point I thought she was choking and wondered how I would give her the heimlich maneuver. Thankfully I realized she was just trying to chew the apple. So I stood silently in awe watching her. She looked over at me and started walking toward me. We just stood there looking into one another’s eyes and she came a little closer. I on one side of the trail and she on the other. We had a special moment and then I heard someone. I looked up the hill and noticed a couple standing watching the deer and I – they were recording our special moment. I said good bye and left her to enjoy her fruit fest.

On another adventure I met up with an owl, or rather the owl met up with me. I was going into a wooded area where there were picnic tables to enjoy my lunch. As I sat at the table I heard a something crashing through the trees. To my surprise an owl landed on the branch almost above my head. I said hello and asked if there was a message – it was my very first encounter with an owl. As I ate my lunch we chatted. Every time I went to stand up the owl would hoot. When I sat down he/she would owl chat. We conversed with neither knowing what the other was saying. When my lunch was done I told the owl that I had to put my lunch bag away but I would return if he/she wanted to wait.

When I returned to the area, there was the owl sitting up in the tree. I sat back down for a bit and again, every time I stood the owl would hoot. After about ten more minutes I said I was taking a walk before dark and invited the owl to come along. He/she hooted when I stood and then followed me along the path to the clearing. Once at the clearing I shared that I would return after the walk and stay to visit if he/she was still there. We both went our ways.

After about two hours I returned to the same path in the woods. I heard the same noise as early through the trees and could not believe the owl returned to greet me. When I was standing still the owl would converse and as I moved would hoot at me. Walking along the path the owl swooshed back and forth across the path from tree to tree above me. At one point flew so close I thought he/she would land on my head. We returned to the picnic table and I sat down as the owl sat on the branch nearby. We continued our conversation until the darkness began to set in. I said, “When you are ready I will leave but it will have to be soon.” Eventually the owl turned, looked back at me, said something in owl language, hooted, stepped back and forth on the branch and then feathers up and off he/she went. It was such an amazing experience and one I shall cherish for life.

Conversing With An Owl

Have you had any interesting experiences in nature with animals or other wildlife? If so, what type of experience have you had? Have you ever had any connections with a tree, rock, animal, insect?

Love to hear from you.

Love and Light!


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience With Children

Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences (MOE) can be enjoyed at any age. Generally the walks have been with adults but I did have a walk in the winter with a 2 year old and twin 9 year olds with their Moms. The Mom of the two year old wasn’t sure the little guy would be warm enough or last too long. She was quite surprise when he walked the 1/2 mile in and out. He hugged several trees and loved the sit-spot.

There were two other times when children joined a MOE. Last year a 9 year old joined the adult walk and it was her first time seeing snow. She and her mother were from South Caroline. She sauntered in silence and enjoyed the 20 minute sit-spot. A couple of weeks ago another 9 year old joined us. He walked quietly, discovered different wonders of nature and made his own mandala.

Recently I had the privilege of guiding four Moms and their little ones – 3 were three years of age and one was 17 months – through the woods at Pine Hollow Arboretum. When working with children the focus changes and there is a little more talking than on an adult experience which is mainly silent.

We started off with some stretching, twirling, reaching to the sky and touching Mother Earth. Then we learned about deer ears and how to do a fox walk. The children started off walking very close to their Moms and not interacting with each other very much.

The little boy walked was not afraid and walked closely next to me chatting about what he was seeing. He loved touching the moss, leaves, pine cones and more. After a while three year old girls overcame their shyness and began to walk next to me. At some point during the walk they started to hold my hand and let me help them in the slippery muddy areas. They shared their fear of snakes. We discussed how important snakes were and that as long as they didn’t come near us we would be fine. Luckily for them we didn’t run into any snakes along the trail. I have met snakes along the trail while exploring Pine Hollow Arboretum in the past.

After a while we decided to be a little creative and they gathered pine cones, acorns, leaves, small pine branches, pine needles, sticks, and some moss – it had to be already lying on the ground – and we tried our hand at creating. Even the little 17 month old helped out.

It wasn’t really an Mandala but they had fun gathering and creating. We took a picture and left this as a gift for anyone traveling that way.

Then we went on to touch the different texture of tree trunks along the trail and the moss covering the fallen trees. Each one of the little ones chose a tree to hug.

They all loved exploring the moss on the logs and we discovered places where the red squirrels had a family feast. It looked like a food trough in the nooks and crannies of the fallen logs. And, sometimes at the bottom of trees we found piles of acorns.

They really enjoyed the adventure and exploring all of the gifts of the forest. We checked out the different sizes, shapes, and textures of the leaves, and height of trees. They smelled the leaves, tree trunks, moss and dirt.

One of the little ones was down on the ground and I asked her what she was doing. She said, “I’m a lizard.” It was obvious wasn’t it. She was having such a great time.

Friends were made during the experience. They held hands, laughed, hugged trees, discovered nature together.

During the walk I showed them this tree with the big hole. I stuck my head inside and looked up as I called out “Anybody home.” Then they all wanted to be held up to check this out and call inside too. We discussed who might be living in the tree and they had some ideas.

Truthfully this was just as much fun for me as it was for them. I am looking forward to my next mindfulness experience with little ones. At the end of the walk we sat at the picnic table and they shared what they liked about the experience. Children are amazing and parents can learn a great deal from their children. We do not need to be childish but being childlike allows us to connect with nature, slow down our thoughts, relax a bit and have fun.

After we left I received a text from one of the Moms sharing that when they arrived at her house her son got out of the car and went over to their tree and hugged it. We are hoping he will become a lifelong tree hugger. The next day I received an email from the ‘lizard’s’ Mom telling me that her daughter was dreaming in the night and called out, “C’mon guys, let’s go.” Her Mom thinks she was dreaming of being out in the woods with the kids.

If you have little ones, get them out in nature and let them have some freedom to explore. Get down on the ground with them to check out the holes in the trees, the smell of the earth, the taste of wild peppermint, cold water on your bare feet, the textures of the tree trunks and leaves. Being in nature lowers your blood pressure, lowers your stress hormones, allows you to breath in fresh air, and receive the benefits of the essence of the forest. Let the little ones run barefoot in the grass and feel the dirt under foot. Let them crawl on the ground like a lizard, roll down the hill, jump in puddles. You will notice they will sleep sounder and you will too.

Organized sports are fine but free play is better if you would like to raise creative, playful, less stressed, happy children. Plus, the sports playing fields are generally heavily sprayed with pesticides and can be stressful for many children. Being out in the natural forested area is a healthier environment. If you are concerned about tics there are many natural deer free sprays. Plus, you can give the children a shower once home to remove any tics before they attach to the skin. There are so many benefits to children and their parents being out in nature. You can share a fun experience, laugh, and learn together in a stress free environment. You can build a loving, caring relationship while connecting to the natural environment. We are not separate from nature, we are nature. So connect and enjoy!

If you would like more information on how to enjoy being in nature with your children or about Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences please feel free to email me at spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com.

Love and Light


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience

Today after leading a Mindfulness Outdoor Experience I went back into the woods and recorded myself at a sit-spot.

What a great ending to a wonderful day in nature. The photo was from the summer because I didn’t get to see the owl today.

It may be a little difficult to hear me as I am new to being outside and recording but you should be able to here the owl hooting at the end.

Hope you enjoy and please let me know if you have any questions about Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences.

Love and Light!


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Finding Your Stillpoint in Nature

What have you been doing during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Hopefully you are well and finding some time to check in with your needs, dreams, and goals for the future. This is a perfect time to reflect, to find our inner strength, to mourn those we have lost, and pray for health of our world.

Over the last 10 months or so I have turned to nature to find some peace and joy amid the world of chaos, pandemic, isolation and political unrest. Even during dark days the light is always finding a crack to share light with the world. We lost a very close young friend in June and then my granddaughter was born in July. My employment switched from field work to working remotely from home. I had time to rearrange my home and now I have an office/create room. I haven’t seen my daughter in Colorado and her family since November 2019 but we have FaceTime and find ways to connect. I haven’t seen my son since early November. My family was unable to gather for Christmas however we had a gathering on Zoom and still had fun with the grab bag. We even found a way to play a game and laughed throughout as we interacted. I don’t see my local grandchildren as much as I would like but our connection seems to have deepened over the last year. My two grandson, now 5 and the other 2, were home eating breakfast while my daughter was upstairs giving birth to her daughter with her husband assisting. No visitors were allowed in the hospital at the time so they made a last minute decisions to birth at home. This solved the issue of not having her husband at a hospital birth and not being with the boys for a night. My oldest granddaughter relocated locally so I can get outside for walks with her once in a while.

For the everyday, instead of thinking of being isolated, I am enjoying nature – my place to connect to my stillpoint – that place of inner joy and peace. Nature has so many gifts to share if we just get ourselves outside to experience these everyday blessings.

You never know who you may meet while enjoying a saunter in the woods.

This beautiful deer was enjoying the apples lying on the ground near the apple tree. When she noticed me she began walking closer and closer. At one point I thought she was going to come across the path to hang out with me. What a beautiful moment to lose yourself in the joy of this beautiful spirit.

And then this special being came to visit in May when I was out in the woods. Still feel blessed that this barred owl decided to hang out with me for over 20 minutes on my way into the woods and then another 20 when I returned to the area after my walk. How can one feel stressed or anxious when sitting chatting with an owl.

Then there was also this lovely creature who flew over me and then hung out on the branch.

Sometimes only tracks are left behind. Looks like a busy place.

All of my scheduled Mindfulness Outdoor Experience (MOE) gatherings were cancelled in March. I had a few people who continued to meet for the first couple of weeks. Being out in nature brought them some peace and calm while in nature. Then there were solitary walks until the end of summer.

Fortunately, MOEs started being scheduled again and have actually grown since the fall. What better way to connect with others than outside in nature. We wear our masks and social distance in the forest. The MOEs allow time for a saunter in nature – time to slow down, connect and find peace.

We have met up in all kinds of weather.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” ~ Sir Ranulph Fiennes ~

Sometimes there was only one participant and other times over 15. In the fall on a misty morning, we enjoyed the changing color and the earthy smell of fallen leaves.

While enjoying the waterfall, we bravely placed our bare feet in the water. It was truly refreshing and invigorating.

We saunter through the forest, stopping to hug a tree, caress the moss, observe a leaf, touch a rock, and/or check out the animal tracks in the mud and snow. The we find a sit spot and meditate for 20 minutes, or 5 if its too cold.

In the winter we look forward to snow, especially a freshly fallen snow. Although it may be cold, the forest protects us from the winds.

We take time to see what is in front, to the left and right enjoying nature’s blessings. We can find beauty everywhere if we open our eyes. Look close – take time to connect – to feel – breathe in the fresh air – become one with your surroundings.

I find the cold air invigorating so after the MOEs I return and sit in the silence of nature. Sometimes in the distance you will notice some company.

If you are looking for me tomorrow, you’ll know where to find me – somewhere in the woods gifting my mind, body and soul with the solace, peace and beauty of nature.

Wishing you all the ability to find your stillspot in nature or home if you cannot get outside. Some ideas for connecting with nature and inner peace while inside:

  • Diffusing essential oils – my favorites are Hinoki, Douglas fir, cedar, Black Spruce, Siberian Fir
  • Place photos or paintings of nature around your home
  • Listen to nature sounds on the computer, cell phone or radio – in the summer open the windows
  • Wear some cozy socks and oversized soft shirts in natural colors
  • Take an epsom salt bath infused with essential oils while listening to nature sounds
  • Read books on nature – I have dozens but here are a few:
    • Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
    • Rewilding by Micah Mortali
    • The Song of Trees by David George Haskell
    • In the Company of Trees by Andrea Sarubbi Fereshteh
    • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohelleben
    • Upstream by Mary Oliver
  • Create a dreamcatcher using natural items, paint using natural tints made from acorns and/or beets or just have fun with a little creative time
  • Meditation is also a great way to find some inner peace

If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences or how to find some inner peace please feel free to reach out to me.

Love and Light


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In Celebration of International Forest Bathing Day – Come Join Us

International Forest Bathing Day – Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020 – come join us to celebrate this special day.

If you are interested in learning more about Forest Bathing, Mindfulness Outdoor Experience, benefits of being outside in nature, finding some peace in times of chaos, finding joy and reducing stress come join us next Saturday, Sept 12, 2020.

We will be offering two Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences.

The first will be at Albert Community Family Forest from 10 am – noon:

https://www.rensselaerplateau.org/mindful-walk

Please click the link above for specifics and to register.

Join us for a nice slow, saunter through the woods, becoming aware of nature’s gifts, find a sit spot to relax, observe, and breathe in the fresh air, while opening our senses and finding inner peace.

In the afternoon we will be offering Mindfulness Outdoor Experience at Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

Mindful Nature Walk: Saturday, September 12 2pm – 4pm 
Join Sandy Wilson from Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC to celebrate the wonders of the outdoors! For those of you who have never experienced a Mindful Nature Walk we will be celebrating International Forest Bathing Day with a Mindful walk in nature while experiencing the benefits of “Forest Bathing.” Don’t worry, Forest Bathing requires no shower cap and involves no actual bathing in water. Called Shinrin-Yoku where it originated in Japan, it is the wellness practice of being in the present moment and opening up our senses to fully take in the forest atmosphere. This type of slow walking ‘sauntering’, deep breathing, present-centered awareness, and observation in nature is shown to reduce stress, boost our moods, and strengthen our immune systems. What’s more, these results are shown to last for weeks, or even months, after only one Forest Bathing outing. Our positive natural response to being outdoors shows our undeniable connection–and that’s something to celebrate! One of our past participants said “I walked trails all over the world many times over the years and never took the time to actually ‘experience’ nature while enjoying the trails. There are so many things that I never noticed before. This was just fabulous.” Masks are required when we arrive and when we gather but may be removed while we are walking or sitting during the outing when participants can maintain 6 feet distance from one another. Please bring water, a mat to sit on (there are six available), comfortable clothing, and a snack if you would like. Dress appropriately for the weather and wear shoes for walking in the woods.

Please register with Lisa either by phone or email:

Lisa Hoyt, Center Director:  (518) 658-2055  or dykenpond@gmail.com

We will be mindful of social distancing – maintaining a 6 foot distance and wearing masks when needed.

If you live in the area and would like to join us we would love for you to join us. If not, check to see if there will be events in your area.

Love and Light!


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Finding Peace

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.
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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.

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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.

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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 ~

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“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.”
~ Robyn Nola ~

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.

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“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.

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In the meantime, I’ll be in the woods waiting for you.

Love and Light!