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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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Forest Bathing – Joys and Benefits

What can slowing down in nature do for you?
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The benefits have been proven time and time again in research all over the world from Japan – Germany – Australia – Finland – Norway – British Columbia – United States and many other countries. The benefits to our children are countless as well. Here are some of the benefits that I have found:

  • The fresh air feels like it cleans out your lungs and revitalizes the body, mind and soul. I prefer being outside in the cold of the winter because the air is so refreshing.
  • Stopping the chatter releases the mind to be in the present moment and observe all the beauty around you. Leaving the chatter behind brings me into the moment to enjoy my surroundings.
  • Giving gratitude and asking permission before entering carries out into daily life waking with a mindset of gratitude for another day to experience miracles. When inside I am always grateful when I walk into the kitchen and see the light filtering through the crystals forming rainbows around the room.
  • Sitting still in nature allows our ripple effect to dissipate as we become one with nature. Paying attention to our ripple effect in our daily life makes us aware how anger can be almost contagious by paying attention we can stay with love in our hearts and allow that to ripple out around us changing the environment we are in.
  • When we enter the forest, meadow, desert the wildlife will send out warnings – many times this goes unnoticed as people are in their own minds, on the cell phone, running, or not paying attention to their surroundings
    • You will begin to see more birds, deer, chipmunks and squirrels, and other critters go back to their daily activities
    • As you sit in silence you will notice the sounds of the wind, trees crackling, birds communicating to one another
    • Chipmunks chattering back and forth to one another
    • The sounds of leaves gently tapping on the ground as they land
    • Rustle of leaves in the trees
  • I believe that paying attention to the signs in nature brings a heightened awareness of our environment and enhances our intuition – something missing from being inside and on electronic devices too many hours of the day. If our children were in nature more and allowing their natural intuition to return they would be more aware of the dangers of the internet predators. As it is they are removed from intuition and do not have the sense of danger being in nature teaches.
  • Your senses will open to the different scent of trees, fresh and dead leaves, the air of the forest, the soil and more. Being inside has been a detriment to our sense of smell. When in nature we can renew our sense of smell.
  • Your eyes will feel relieved as they take in the greens and blues of the trees and water. My ophthalmologist shared that the muscles in my eyes are very healthy even though I wear glasses and my eyesight has been improving over the last couple of years.
  • Your stress is reduced as your body is allowed to relax and release tension. No matter how much stress I am feeling, when out in nature I return from the experience relaxed and refreshed.
  • It has been proven that blood pressure drops. Luckily my blood pressure has not been an issue and maybe that is because I have always been a lover of nature and have used walking in the woods, on the beach, in the desert as a means of promoting health as long as I can remember. 

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Those are just a few of the benefits of a mindfulness outdoor experience and forest bathing. While sitting at your sit spot – generally on your own – you can experience an open eyed meditation. This allow you to notice your surroundings without judgement, just observing with your senses. You never know when a deer, bird, or squirrel may come along without noticing you.

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Slowing down allows you to observe nature and all living beings within nature. During our walks we may stop to discuss what we are noticing. The Pileated Woodpecker has left its mark on this dead tree.

You may find prints throughout the forest of deer, turkey, coyote, rabbits, squirrel and sometimes bear. In some areas they are very active. Just slowing to touch the back of a tree. Sauntering allows you to look up, around, behind, and in front to take in all that is around you. The paper like bark on the tree, new buds, intricate designs of spider webs, or maybe lie in the snow and allow it to embrace you.

Walking through the woods in silence even when there is a crunching snow underfoot is a remarkable experience. We practiced fox walk at a slow pace so the crunching was at a minimum and sometimes in the soft snow there was no sound coming from our steps.

We should be respectful of the living beings within the environment. Like us they are just trying to live in peace. Being aware of our own effect on them allows us to learn about ripple effect in our daily lives. If we can respect nature we can respect ourselves. Once we respect ourselves we can respect others. When we respect others we show people how to respect us. It is a circle of life and we can all play a part in making this a more harmonious world. We need a healthy environment to survive and we can all take steps to ensure the same for future generations.

Some of the benefits of participating in Mindfulness Outdoor Experience and Forest Bathing over the last two weeks – slowing down and sauntering in silence as a group in nature brought us together as one. No one knew anyone prior to the gatherings and by the end sitting together for counsel we were all one – sharing tea and our experiences without fear or being self-conscious about what we were sharing from our personal observation. It was quite beautiful.

Bringing this experience to your own life or to children – you can walk out your backdoor, to a local park, nursery, to a local tree, sit outside and look at the stars to experience nature.

My goal is to ensure that my grandchildren have the benefit of connecting with nature. Not really a sit spot but this little guy, my grandson, loves to connect with nature anywhere he goes.

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While I was in the garage grabbing his snowboard and sled Colt was out in the snow waiting for me. When I came out he was lying on the dirt path quietly looking up at the clouds enjoying the moment. I believe this comes naturally to children when provided the opportunity. We had just been out looking at animal tracks and sitting quietly by the stream. I showed him deer ears and once we were quiet for a few minutes, on the other side of the stream, a fisher cat ran across the edge. Birds began to sing loudly back and forth from one side to the other. I said they were talking to one another and Colt said, “No, they are singing to each other.” As we sat in silence more birds began to fly from tree to tree. It was a beautiful experience.

Have you participated in a mindfulness outdoor experience or forest bathing?

Many of us remember this from our childhood before anyone gave this a name – it was just hanging outside lying on our backs looking up at the clouds or stars, playing in the mud, rolling down hills, hugging trees, lying on the ground looking at insects, watching butterflies and dragonflies, jumping in mud puddles. It comes naturally to children when given the opportunity.

Being a Kripalu certified Outdoor Mindfulness Guide has brought the ability to share my love of nature with others. Looking forward to many years of sharing experiences with others.

Please share your nature experiences if you like. I would love to hear how you enjoy nature especially for those who live in different environments – desert, seashore, grasslands, tundra or other. Mindfulness Outdoor Experience can be shared in any environment even in the inner city there are ways to enjoy nature. Mine preference is the forest but have enjoyed the desert, seashore, rain forest, and open fields.

Love and Light!