Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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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!


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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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Mindfully Walking in Nature

On Sunday I was grateful to be near the Saratoga National Historical Park. Every time I am in the area I park my car and head out in a different direction.

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Neilson House – Saratoga National Historical Park

Sometimes I go to the right, down the long curving hill and take another right down the trees road to circular parking area to enjoy the view of the Hudson River and farmland. Other times, I walk down the hill and go to the left on the opposite side of the red house.

On other walks, I go to the left past the Neilson House (photo above), down the long treed roadway past the open field and cut across the dirt path through the woods to the road on the other side. When time permits, I cross the road and continue onto the Wilkinson Trail through the woods across an open field down a steep hill that leads to a brook, then back up the hill through the woods to the road. If I cross the road at this point I will walk across a short field to a small bridge to another treed path that runs along a cliff overlooking the brook. After a long walk in the woods, I cross another road and find myself at the same road in which I began.

In the fall, the trees are decorated in reds, orange, and gold. The sound of the fallen leaves crunch underfoot, geese honk, honking in the sky above, as light filters through the trees. The smell of earth and decaying leaves fills the crisp air and I lose myself in the beauty. It is on these long walks that I sometimes find myself in a meditative state walking through the woods without realizing how far I have traveled. Time seems to stand still.

Along the walk deer step out onto the road or cross in front of me along a path in the woods. They stop to check me out and then go about their business. I walk slowly through the woods as to not startle them or other critters that live in this protected area.

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I never get tired of seeing deer. When my mother, Aunt Helen, and Uncle Don were alive they would ride through the Park or the outskirts of the park to count the number of deer they spotted. Sometimes they would count upwards of 50, especially in the fall when the deer were smart enough to know as long as they stayed on this property the hunters could not shoot them.

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Sometimes the deer and I have seem to have contests to see who can stand still the longest. As in the photo above, we stood for quite a while before the two deer decided to move on. Many times I win because the wind will turn course and once they smell me off they go. On the days that I continue on this road past the deer, I pass an open field on the right and then back through a treed area before returning to the Neilson House. Sometimes I walk fast releasing my thoughts as I travel. Other times, I meander along enjoying the flowers, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, coy dogs, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and a variety of birds.

There are always gifts of beauty along the way whether in the woods, fields or along the roadway if you can slow down to witness. Maybe pick an apple to eat along the way.

I see others walking quickly, ear buds in their ears, music blaring from their iPhones and wonder if they ever slow down long enough to really enjoy the nature around them. Do they ever stop to chat with the deer or watch the chipmunks and bluejays play? On my walk I stopped to watch a bluejay and chipmunk chasing each other around like little children. Instead of music, I listened to the leaves rustling in the wind, crunching under the weight of the deer, a plane overhead, cows mooing on a farm in the distance, geese honking overhead, and to my own heart beat and breath. I gave thanks for the beauty of nature that surrounded me and wished I could share this with others.

By the time I walked out of the park the sun was beginning its decent. If you look closely in the distance in the photo below you can see the outline of the Neilson House surrounded by trees.

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This is one of my favorite spots. Sometimes I stay in the park until sunset to hear the howl of the coyotes and watch the last slit of red in the sky. But on this night, I had to hurry home to prepare for the red moon and eclipse that would not be seen again until 2033.

On the way to my car a couple was walking into the Park. We chatted for a bit, they were heading to the Neilson House to watch the lunar eclipse and dance in the moonlight to Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. They have danced under every full moon for the last four years. It seemed so romantic. I was invited to stay – it was very tempting – but the eclipse would take a while and I live half an hour from the Park so I thanked them and went my way. While driving home, I almost turned around several times but was grateful I decided to return home to watch the rare event.

My question to you is – when you walk, do you walk fast and listen to music or do you slow down and listen to nature? Do you stop and smell the flowers, watch the bees, notice the beauty around you? Life is a wonderful experience if you can slow down long enough to enjoy it. Can you give yourself the gift of time in nature? Will you give yourself this gift? It doesn’t take a lot of time to get in tune with nature and yourself. Aren’t you worth it? Please share your experience with nature and walking, I would love to hear from you.

Love and Life!