Spirit of Dragonflies

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


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Forest Bathing – Grounding – Connecting to Nature

I do not know whether it is possible to love the planet or not,
but I do know that it is possible to love the place
we can see, touch, smell and experience.
~ David Orr, Earth in Mind

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Nature is not a place to visit, it is home. 
~ Gary Snyder

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When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully
because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at
us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.

~ Oren Lyons, Onondaga Nation

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It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

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When in nature it is not a time to rush. Slow down, stop and look at the gifts nature has blessed you with. Take in everything in front of you, above you, to each side.

What are you smelling – the flowers, trees, dirt, earth? Take off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet. Let the energy of the earth revitalize you. Look up and watch the leaves dancing in the breeze above. Is the sunlight shining through the spaces between the branches? Raise your hands above your head and move your body like the leaves dancing in the wind. Release all that is holding you back. How does that feel?

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There is so much to see, smell, taste, feel, and connect with in nature if you just pay attention. When you are out, sit down and feel the earth. Let the dirt sift through your fingers. Feel the texture of the trees. Notice how each tree has a different shape, thickness and texture. Notice the trails – some are well worn while others are covered in moss or greenery.

Do certain sections of the forest feel like rooms? Maybe there are sections of trees protecting an area while other areas are open. What insects, little or big critters are scampering around through the trees, under foot, or along the dirt bath?

Pay attention to how the sunlight filters through and decorates the forest floor. Listen to the birds singing or sending out a warning signal. Sit and watch the dragonflies, butterflies and bees dancing from flower to flower. Can you find any edible plants along the path?

Forest bathing is learning to slow down and take in a section of the forest at a slow pace. There is no destination – just being present in the moment. Being mindful of life, of your surroundings. Slowing down to allow your body to heal. The forest has healing properties that are being discovered everyday. We have this beautiful gift if only we slow down enough to appreciate this blessing.

Last week I had my first experience facilitating Earth Walk with my client. After searching for several months I stumbled upon the perfect setting. A doctor had purchased a home and planted trees, flowers, and shrubs around the property. There are several ponds on the property and varieties of trees from around the world. There are many ‘rooms’ on the property with benches placed for a visitor to sit and contemplate the beauty that surrounds them. When he died the property was left for others to enjoy.

You can sit on a bench near a pond and watch dragonflies chase one another for hours. My client took her time and with my guidance she was able to release something that has been holding her back in life. We would walk to the various ‘rooms’ and she would sit on the bench and write in her journal. Then we would sit in silence until it was time to move on to another area. Sometimes after experiencing this type of walk you can feel melancholy for several days. After my first experience in New Mexico I traveled home and wasn’t sure what was happening to me. I felt sad but not depressed, a bit quiet and wanted to be alone, it felt like a loss or death. Which it actually was – a loss of what I had been holding on to for a couple of decades. We had buried something I had brought along and had a little ceremony to release. The night after our our ceremony I felt so upbeat and excited about the future it surprised me how melancholy had set in once I returned home. I reached out to Mary to share this experience and she said this was normal. You have to go through the stages of grief after releasing. After the week was over the scene from my memory could still rise up however it was like a movie that I no longer had any attachment to – it was someone else from long ago. It was a wonderful feeling to release that emotional connection. Two years later and I am still unattached to what had been a painful memory. Think about what you will be able to release while in nature? You can have your own ceremony.

When in nature give yourself the privilege of spending an hour or two in a state of relaxation. The beneficial effects will stay with you for days after the visit. If you can manage to experience this two or three times per week you will begin to notice the physical and mental health benefits. If you take someone with you try not to speak to one another during your walk – only to point out something that you are seeing, smelling, feeling – a shared experience. It is fine to bring a journal to write down what you are experiencing. If you are with another person after your experience sit down and discuss what you noticed and share your personal journey with one another if you wish.

Please let me know if you decide to experience this journey. I would love to hear from you.

Love and Light!


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Into the Forest – One Step At A Time Finding Inner Peace

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ~ John Muir ~

One need not go into the woods to hike or even walk very far to enjoy the benefits of nature. You only need to slow down and listen to the leaves crunch under your feet, smell the fresh scent of trees and earth, listen to the birds and the rustle of leaves in the wind to become connected to the natural rhythm of life.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Stop, breathe and look around. Do you see the tiny flowers peeking out below you.

Do you stop to converse with the trees? Stand for a little while and wait for an invite from one of the trees. Of course they will not speak so you can hear them however you may feel an energy from one or two trees tug at you more so than others. Those are the trees you should spend time with. What kind of bark do they have – smooth or thick and rough? Are the large roots on the ground around the tree or are they hidden under the soil? What does the bark feel like? Touch it for a few minutes to see if you can feel the water running up from the roots to the branches above. Imagine how many years this tree has stood in this spot. Imagine all of the people walking through who may never have taken the time to enjoy its company. Imagine what experiences this tree has witnessed. If it is an older tree think of the possibilities – Native Americans, droughts or floods, insect infestation, fires, deforestation of other trees . . .

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

Sit down on a rock and listen to the waterfalls or the birds singing in the trees. Is it cooler in the woods that it was on the road traveling to the woods? Can you distinguish the different types of birds that are singing? Maybe you can hear an owl hooting in the distance or another bird signaling that there is a hawk in the area. Is it quiet near the pond or can you still hear traffic in the distance? What colors are you noticing? I love to notice all of the shades of green to yellow.

Sitting taking in the reflections on the water is my favorite. Last weekend while visiting Yaddo Garden in Saratoga Springs, NY, I slowly walked around the gardens – which are not in bloom yet – and spent some time standing near the pond listening to the small waterfalls across the road. The highway is nearby so there is a constant roar of car wizzing by on their way north and south of Saratoga. Once you overcome the constant drone it becomes easier to hear the bird’s songs and the peace in the wooded area. I stayed with one of the trees a little longer than the others and meditated for a short time in the peaceful environment.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir~

Stop and take notice of the beautiful green moss growing on the trees and rocks. Lean down and touch the cool, moist surface.

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.” ~ George W. Sears, writer & conservationist ~

You don’t have to be in the middle of a thick forest to enjoy nature, you can benefit from sitting on a bench under the shade of a tree in your own yard or in a local park. In the spring you have the pleasure of magnolia blossoms, lilacs, Lilies of the Valley, and many other treasures to enjoy.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” ~ Frank Herbert, novelist ~


Flowers and buds are blooming along streets everywhere. It is beneficial to take time and notice how life continues. From the decay of the winter months new growth appears giving hope for the future. Colors, birds singing, there are smells of earth, flowers, trees in the air, different textures can be seen from tree to tree, leaf to leaf, flower to flower. We just have to open our senses to the beauty and diversity all around us.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” ~ Edward Abbey, novelist ~

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As the sun is setting, notice above in the tree line how some trees are still capturing the sunshine while others are beginning to fall into the shadows.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Sometimes while traveling for work I’ll pull along the side of the road and get out of the car to stretch and take a nature break. One never knows what they will find along the road and taking the back roads is my favorite because there are ponds, lakes, rivers, forests, and parks along the way. My camera is always sitting on the seat behind me however I do not always carry it when I get out of the car. Sometimes it is nice to just walk along slowly and become one with nature.

“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” ~ Walt Whitman, poet & writer ~

Do you stop to enjoy nature on a regular basis? My goal is to be in nature daily with longer visits on the weekends. At the end of summer I shall be traveling across southern Utah to enjoy sleeping in a tent under the stars with my cousin. One thing I truly look forward to witnessing is Dark Sky when the night will fill with stars that cannot be seen from where I live. It will be magnificent with everyday bringing a new adventure and beauty to take in. In the meantime, Spring is here and there are so many treasures to enjoy at this moment that I look forward to what lie ahead every day.

Love and Light!

 


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Earth Day Celebration at Kripalu

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

Earth Day should not really be celebrated one day a year – it should be something we celebrate and give thanks to every day. Mother Earth is our home – we should honor and care for everything she blesses us with knowing life would not be without her blessings.

Feeling grateful to have shared in The Language of the Earth program at Kripalu. We spent the weekend exploring nature, hugging trees, learning how animals interact with nature, and planting a tree.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”  ~ John Muir ~

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”  ~ John James Audubon ~

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”  ~ John Muir ~

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In the center of the tree you will see markings on the tree from squirrels. It was interesting learning how to read the animal signs in nature.


There were so many places where people visiting Kripalu stop to meditate, relax, and hold rituals. Such a peaceful location to visit and spend a weekend or week.

“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.” ~ Thomas Fuller ~

We each wrote a note to Mother Earth and buried them with the tree. Can’t wait to return to see how the tree is growing over the next few years.

The view of the lake from Kripalu was beautiful and the two little birds came to visit me this morning while I was drawing a tree while sitting at the table.

DSC_0818.jpg“Time spent among trees is never time wasted.” ~ Anonymous ~

During our last adventure in nature today I noticed this tree growing out from a fallen tree. This is why it is important to leave fallen trees as they continue to feed other trees in the forest. Old growth forests should be left alone and unfortunately they have been destroyed over the years due to ignorance. It is time to pay attention to the message of nature. Trees are sentient beings – A sentient being is one who perceives and responds to sensations of whatever kind – sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell. Sentient ultimately comes from the Latin verb sentire, which means “to feel” and is related to the noun sensus, meaning “feeling” or “sense.”

“Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, —
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress its music.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Did you get out in nature on Earth Day? Do you feel peaceful and relaxed when walking in nature?

I am planning a sharing of Forest Bathing with a small group of people in a local wooded area in the near future. If you are interested in experiencing this wonderful event please send an email to spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com.

Love and Light!


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WPC – Edge

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” ~ Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water ~

The first time I stood at the edge and looked out at the frozen lake I didn’t really notice the house. The house is built at the edge of the rock formation and made with stone to resemble the natural habitat. The occupants must have a wonderful view of the mountains and lake below. Across from the home a tree grows on a rock, almost in competition with the home as it shouts out, “Look at me.”

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If you would like to learn more about Minnewaska Preserve click thee link below: http://hikethehudsonvalley.com/minnewaska-state-park-preserve/

In winter the Preserve is quiet. The roar of the waterfall could be heard from quite a distance while hiking through the woods. Once you get a little closer your heart beats a little faster in anticipation of seeing the rushing waters. As you walk down the stream you will first reach the edge of the falls. The water is so powerful that you don’t want to get too close the edge.

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A trail that leads down the mountain to the bottom of the falls. The photos above are a mix of two visits. As you can see one is later in the year when the I’ve has thawed and the other is in the midst of the freezing weather. It was breathtaking.

This location is a perfect place to slow down and enjoy the winter weather. Sitting on a rock listening to the falls is a great place to meditate, get in touch with nature, and just allow your mind to quiet for a short period of time. Time seemed to stop for a while as we sat enjoying the sounds of nature.

We spent hours at the edge of the waterfalls capturing ice melting, green life poking through the snow, leaves caught in the rocks and other amazing gifts of nature.

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods ~

If you would like to view other photos from this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges

Love and Light


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WPC – Narrow

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

The paths through Thatcher Park in Berne, NY can be narrow and crooked. In some areas you have to duck under a large boulder in order to continue along the path. One cannot help but feel connected to nature when in the midst of such beauty. If you get tired you can sit on one of the benches along the trail or one of the large boulders. There are two waterfalls along the path. In the spring the waters flow, at the present time the water trickles due to the lack of rain. Autumn is my favorite time to visit.

Walking along the narrow path in nature is like walking along life’s path – each step interesting and beautiful in its own right. Sometimes you are in darkness and other times in light, each providing a learning experience.

“Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.” ~ Oprah Winfrey ~

If you are interested in viewing other photos for this week’s challenge or would like to enter your own click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/narrow

Love and Light!


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WPC – Cherry On Top

After a day of walking in the woods at my friend’s camp we were gifted with this beauty. This was the first time that I witnessed a damselfly eating. The cherry on top of this wonderful day!

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If you open your eyes, you will see the beauty in the world!

If you are interested in viewing more photos for this week’s challenge or would like to enter your own photos click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/cherry-on-top

Love and Light!


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WPC – Curves

Find inspiration in the curves around you.

One never knows what they will discover when searching for photos to meet the topic for the week’s challenge.For this week’s challenge, Curves, I decided on nature photos. To find the perfect photos one must slow down, becoming mindful and discover nature once again through snapshots in time. As in life, nature is not straight and narrow, there are curves thrown in to make it more interesting. Whether viewing a clover covered in morning dew, branches decorating a pond, flowers, birds or trees nature provides a variety of beauty. I hope that you enjoy my selections.

Viewing the photos and thinking about curves, nature and creativity makes me think of children. There is a world of wonder in nature that many children are missing as they sit inside in front of the computer, cell phones, television or wander around the malls. This quote seemed fitting for where my mind went.

Stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play, even a safer life—these are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into children’s lives.

— Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods

 

Many of our designs in furnishings, sign posts, and art are created through our interaction and awareness of nature. If our children are not introduced to nature how will they learn to the natural designs or learn to naturally reduce stress, or maintain their physical and spiritual health. How will they find joy and develop a sense of creativity as they mature into adulthood? Isn’t it our responsibility as adults to share in nature with our children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other children in our lives. If we walk in nature with children they open our eyes to the wonderment many of us have forgotten. In the woods, we become aware of our child within whether we are walking with a child or not.

When you are taking a walk in the city, town or village be aware of the designs you find around you and remember where those curves originated and how they have now found home in the manmade settings. Below you will find some manmade items with curves incorporated into their design.

The one statue located in San Diego which was designed from a photo taken in NYC after World War II ended. That was included because of the curve in her back and leg. Plus is was fun. I hope you have enjoyed my entries for this week’s challenge. Please share if you have any thoughts on any of the photos.

If you would live to view other photos or post your own photos for this week’s challenge click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/curve

Light and Love!


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WPC – Earth (2)

On this day, between the global Earth Day celebration, and Mother’s Day in the United States, share your vision of our glorious Mother Earth.

We live in a world divided. Some people don’t respect Mother Earth and work to control her for their own profit. Others know and are grateful for the life-sustaining gifts that Mother Earth provides – oxygen to breath, water to drink, soil to grow food. Luckily many are awakening and speaking out to protect her.

It saddened my heart to see these trees felled in Saratoga National Historical Park last month. Not sure why they were felled but as you can see they weren’t dead trees. This is common in my area lately and my heart cries for the trees. I’m praying that the madness will end soon. My co-worker has purchased trees and is going to share some with me so my granddaughter and I can plant them wherever we find a home for them.

 

“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the earth is not bereft of four-footed life – that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world.

But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
~ Chief Luther Standing Bear ~

Luckily there are many places where trees and Mother Earth are still given the respect they deserve.

These are the places I return to regularly to strengthen my soul and spirit, to heal and listen to Mother Earth’s music and witness her beauty in all seasons.

Do you have a special place in nature that can revitalize your soul and uplift your spirit?

Mother Earth will win in the end. There is no money or greed that can out live her.

If you would like to view more photos for this week’s challenge or would like to share your own click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth

Love and Light!


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WPC – Earth (1)

On this day, between the global Earth Day celebration, and Mother’s Day in the United States, share your vision of our glorious Mother Earth.

If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh~

 

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Carrots of many colors

The next time you bite into a piece of fruit or vegetable remember to be grateful for the rain, soul, sunshine and our dear Mother Earth for providing your nourishment and life.

If you would like to view more photos for this week’s challenge or would like to submit your own please click on the link below:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth

Love and Light!