Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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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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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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Awakening – Spring is in the Air

This week, show us an image of an awakening. I’ve chosen a photo of a fiddlehead, the structure that rises from the ground, eventually to unfurl into the leaves of a fern. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere are headed into autumn, and your environment is preparing for a winter rest. Your interpretation doesn’t have to be botanical in nature. I’m eager to see what you all share.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Spring and new awakenings. Love witnessing plant life reaching out from Mother Earth ready to greet the sun. I feel the same way. Awakening from the winter slumber ready to reach out to the sunlight and connect my bare feet to the earth once again.

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the whole wide world’s joy.” ~Henry Ward Beecher ~

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

And, this little guy with a lightweight coat ready to try out his new wheelbarrow. He is ready to get outside and hug trees, make mud pies, and enjoy the renewed greenery of spring. I am sure he is ready to go barefoot once again as well.

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Looking forward to some more warm days with windows open, sheers dancing in the breeze, sunlight decorating the floor, and long walks in nature.

If you would like to view additional photos or would like to enter your own, please click on the link below:

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

Love and Light!


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WPC – EARTH

Earth Day! This week, let’s celebrate our true home and all the blessings nature provides.

This week, share an image that means “earth” to you — whether it’s a panorama of a landscape that takes your breath away, a close-up revealing a detail in nature, or another scene that honors the outdoors, we welcome your takes on the theme!

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”                  ~ Native America Proverb ~

Mother Earth – giver of life – filled with wonder, beauty, scents, sounds, and color – How can one choice just one photo to represent Mother Earth when there are so many to choose from, I decided to share a selection.

“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 ~

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

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth-2017/

Love and Light!