Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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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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Nature, Trees and Grandchildren

“Hope is the tree that holds the world”

Pliny, the Elder

“Most people never listen.”

~ Earnest Hemmingway ~

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse, Wandering ~

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Silly Tanner climbing a tree

“Childhood is, or has been, or ought to be, the great original adventure, a tale of privation, courage, constant vigilance, danger, and sometimes Calamity.”

~ Michael Chardon ~

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Baby Colt checking out the flower on the Magnolia tree

“If man is not to live by bread alone, what is better worth doing well than the planting of trees?”

~ Frederick Law Olmsted ~

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Checking out a very wise tree at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

~ John Muir ~

“A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.”

~ Anton Chekhov ~

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Hugging Trees at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life and activity; it affords protection to all beings.”

~ Buddhist Sutra ~

Teaching children to connect with nature at an early age has been a very important part of my life. First with my own children, nieces, nephews, and their friends taking them for hikes, sleeping in lean-tos in the forest, and playing outside daily. Now with my grandchildren – Taylor, my eldest granddaughter, Tanner (5), Colt (3), and soon the youngest, Lainey (10 months) and Abram (6 months). Sharing the love of nature with children gives them a lifelong love and knowledge of our interconnection with the nature and all the life it maintains.

Whenever I get the chance I am outside with others learning about our environment, forest bathing, enjoying the sounds, smells and sights. Living mindfully in nature allows time to reflect, to take in fresh air, exercise the body, feel the spirit, and relax the mind. I have been very fortunate over the years to have attended classes with other like minded people, belong to groups, and volunteer at locations that allow time outdoors.

If all goes well and I am accepted into the class I will be spending 9 days outside in October of this year learning more about forest bathing, mindful outdoor meditation, group facilitation skills, and more. This will be truly a dream come true. After the class I will be a certified instructor and will begin to share my knowledge and experiences with others. What a blessing it will be to bring a sense of wonder and share this knowledge with the next generation.

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt ~

“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

Do you take time to hug trees? Do you teach children about their connection to nature? If we each take on the responsibility to protect nature we will be blessing our children and their children with a life sustaining gift. More precious than all the money in the world. 

A few things that you can do to help our environment:

  • Use cloth bags when at the grocery store or any store
  • Pick up garbage from the ground and throw it in the trash
  • Carry your own reusable water bottle
  • Purchase reusable sandwich bags – wash and reuse
  • Bring your own reusable lunch bag
  • Make your own meals from real food – not boxed or canned
  • Try to have less trash
  • Donate any unwanted items
  • Compost
  • Grow your own food in a garden
  • Walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation or drive a Hybrid
  • Ride share
  • Use your towels / wash clothes more than once before washing
  • Turn off the lights when not using, use energy saving light bulbs
  • Unplug your equipment when not using (laptops, computers . . .)
  • Have your furnace cleaned before cold weather
  • Carry all trash out of the woods when hiking or camping
  • Don’t write on trees or carve your initials in them
  • Plant trees every year
  • Call your representatives and senators to request more green space
  • Spend an hour or so outside daily connecting with nature
  • Hug a tree or two
  • Read books on nature – educate yourself
  • Take an outdoor class
  • Remove all chemicals from your home – inside and out  – find natural alternatives
  • Don’t purchase Round Up and don’t hire anyone who uses chemicals on your yard
  • Purchase only organic foods and grass-fed beef, free range chicken

Do you have something to add to this list? Please share.

Love and Light!

 


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WPC – Smile

This week, show us a smile (yours or someone else’s), make us smile, or both. Share a photo of something that has brought a moment of joy into your life recently, or focus on the outcome of that joy. If you’re not feeling particularly cheerful at the moment — it’s still 2018, after all — no need to fake your way into the challenge, either. Smiles come in all shades and flavors, including the half-hearted, tired, bitter, and resigned (to name a few). So whether the emotions you channel in your photo are full of cheer or not, I can’t wait to see your take on this theme.

This week with all that is going on in the world and so many people feeling there is nothing to be happy about it seems appropriate to share some photos of happy times over the last few years and how we help the little ones find their smiles and how they bring out our smiles as well. I’ve also added some other photos that make me smile. Hope you find your smile while viewing the photos.

Children learn to smile from their parents. ~ Shinichi Suzuki ~

Smile, it is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo ~

Isn’t that the truth. I would like to think that in our family we have smiled enough to show our children that there may be rough spots on the road along the way but you can always smile, be a little silly, and enjoy life.

We only get one life – at least this life – so why not smile more, laugh more, and just enjoy every moment. Be aware of the energy you share with others. Just as a smile will spread, the same is true for a frown so turn that frown upside down and share some loving energy with all you come into contact with. When someone smiles at you doesn’t that bring out a smile for you as well. Smile at everyone you meet because you never know what is going on in their life and your smile may brighten their day.

Dare, dream, dance, smile, and sing loudly! And have faith that love is an unstoppable force! ~ Suzanne Brockton ~

Love and Light!

If you would like to view other 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/smile/


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Story – The Daily Post

For this week’s challenge, do some visual storytelling with your photography. As always, I’m excited to see what you all share.

Blueberry picking

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events of their lives. ~ Thomas Berry ~

I love that quote and agree. Teaching our children and grandchildren of our connection with nature, showing them the connection between food and nature them to connect with the source. Being out in the field of blueberry bushes on a sunny summer day is a blessed experience. If you have the ability to experience this with children you will both remember this for life.

I still remember being in the fields with my mother and aunts picking blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples. Having a garden in my own yard is always a blessing and one I hope to repeat this year. My sister and I pick fruit when in season and freeze bags to enjoy in the cold winter months. I still have several bags of strawberries – the blueberries did not last all winter this year so I know to pick more this summer. What a treat to open a bag of frozen fruit in mid-winter knowing they were picked from the vine with my own hands.

Do you have a special fruit or vegetable that you love to grown and/or pick?

If you would like to view additional photos for this weeks challenge or would like to submit your own please click on the link below:

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

Love and Light!


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Peek A Boo – What Do I See?

This week, share a peek of something — a photo that reveals just enough of your subject to get us interested. A tantalizing detail. An unusual perspective. Compel us to click through to your post to find out more!

Abby and Emily came to visit me with their Nonni and Poppy and we decided to take a walk in the woods near my home. A fun time was had by all, even the ‘big’ kids. The deer in the field were a nice surprise in the Saratoga National Park. We often see many deer in the fields however this group was near the path. I think they enjoy watching people watching them. Probably standing over there having a good time laughing at those odd-looking people staring at them.

What do you see hiding within? Love finding peeking spots when hiking or walking in the Albany Rural Cemetery. One never knows what they will see so always stop to check it out. The little deer was caught peeking out at me as I was leaving Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center. It felt as if she was coming over to say goodbye.

Looks who’s peeking out at his first snow fall. Baby Tanner (almost 4 years old now). He loved watching the snow flakes fall. Shortly after this photo we bundled him up and brought him out for his first sleigh ride. Once again, fun was had by all especially the ‘big’ kids.

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May you slow down long enough to become aware of your environment and all the hidden treasures. What do you notice peeking out at you?

Love and Light!

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

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


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WPC – Corner

What kinds of images and emotions do corners evoke in you? In this week’s challenge, share a photo that plays on any of the word’s many meanings. Show your favorite street corner, or a cozy nook in your home where you feel truly at peace. Focus on a person or place that’s recently gone through a transformation — “turned a corner,” as we often say. Or stick to geometry and highlight the angularity of a favorite landscape or object.

Looks who Eric caught in the corner of the bedroom window. Two little boys checking out the passing train. Both of the boys started off fearful of the loud train passing by and who can blame them. The whole house trembles as it rumbles down the tracks. In the summer, the screaming whistle fills the house demanding cars to stop and wait.

To overcome their fear we would laugh as we grabbed them up in our arms on our way  to the window and wave at the passengers. Now they run to the window themselves or, if on the front porch, run to the little bench to watch the passing trains as they wave goodbye wishing them a safe journey.

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I read this quote by an unknown source and thought it appropriate for my grandsons.

“Don’t ask him to live in your world, visit his world instead.”

This is how I feel when with the little ones, always wondering what they are seeing and feeling as they experience the world anew. Around every corner a new experience awaits them. I try to see the world through their eyes and sometimes remember the hidden child within.

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

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

Love and Light!