Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience – Finding Peace

Finding Peace in your life is as easy as a saunter through the woods. Sauntering is a nice slow, relaxing walk without hurry. No watches, cell phones, or music required. Let nature provide the music, scents, color, and peace as you slowly melt into your natural rhythm. I call nature ‘eye candy‘ – so many colors to see and enjoy.

I prefer to bring people to the woods but you can do a Mindfulness Outdoor Experience (MOE) in an urban or suburban setting, in the desert or on water. There are no limits.
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Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences (MOE) allow you to slowly join in the rhythm of the forest. When we first start out participants are generally still in the busy mindset. They may have traveled to the woodlands, come from taking care of others, from work or have been in similar situations. We start out with a little getting to know one another and some stretching, maybe a meditation. This starts the slowing down process.

We ask permission to enter the woods always being conscious that as we step into the forest there is a ripple effect – unseen but just as effective as a putting a droplet or dipping a toe into water. A warning is sent out to the plants and animals that someone is entering their ‘home.” Birds will send out warning calls as we enter. At first this may not be noticed but if you pay attention you will notice how quiet the woods become.

As we slowly enter the woods we learn to place our feet softly on the earth. You could do this barefoot or with shoes. You needn’t even go far, just far enough to experience the color, texture, scent, and breath in the air. After a little while you will be in harmony with the trees – breathing in and out in rhythm with nature.

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After a while everyone finds a sit spot and gets comfortable – either sitting on the ground or a mat whichever is preferred. There is a short meditation before the open eye forest meditation. This is my favorite part of the experience.

People who have had a difficult time with the slow pace will now become more aware of their senses. They notice the birds are now singing, the trees are dancing in the breeze, the chipmunks are skittering everywhere, they may notice a newt or two, leaves twirling in free flight landing on limbs above, the scent of musky scent of earth, and the sound of wind from different directions meeting in the trees. Most was not noticed while sauntering along the path.

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After the sit spot everyone is called back and we have counsel to share in their experiences. It is at this point that participants share how relaxed they feel, what they observed during the meditation, and what they hope to take with them. Prior to Covid-19 we would have a tea ceremony and we look forward to sharing this once again in the near future.

What does slowing down in nature allow us to observe while sauntering and during sit spot. We begin to notice nature up close, to feel the texture of the trees, leaves, mushrooms and such. To notice the life cycle of the forest – the seedlings, saplings, and mature trees. We become aware of the light filtering through trees, decorating the forest floor. The communication between birds species, how they warn one another of predators. We notice the slow pace of nature and how everything has a time and place. Everything that preoccupied the mind prior to entering the forest is no longer important.

Let’s go out and hug some trees.

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

~ Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and writer ~

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

~Hermann Hease, German-born poet, novelist and painter.

Have you ever slowed down to notice the texture of the trees or the essence of the trees?Here are some photos from recent MOES. I don’t carry my camera during a MOE but will spend time snapping nature photos when out on my own.

Some of the trees have smooth soft bark, others look like they were weaved together, some are still standing even though they have been destroyed by insects and weather. I found the carvings on the one tree very interesting. This is not a manmade work of art but that of insects burrowing under the bark. Some trees appear to be crying as their sap runs down the folds or mixes with the spider or caterpillar webs.

When slowing down, get a little closer to see what else is living underneath the leaves or on the trees. I love getting down on my hands and knees to check out the nature’s gifts. So many shapes, sizes, and colors. There is always something worth noticing.

When it comes to dragonflies, I’ll sit for hours watching them whether while walking along the edge of pond, river back or while paddling along in a kayak. I have been know to sit quietly for hours at time until I capture these gems in flight or on a reed. Slowing down and watching them brings me to a deep place of mindfulness. Nothing else is on my mind just the beauty of this special creature.

“Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and we can reflect light in powerful ways if we choose to do so.”
~ Robyn Nola ~

Sometimes instead of looking down we must look up. Look up to the sky and watch the birds, the clouds, the sunset and sunrise. to see the stars and moon. Look up to see birds in the trees. Look up to see potential and connect with peace in nature. Allow the sun or moon to shine upon you and fill you with light energy.

Then look down feel the earth as you learn how to ground yourself to the energy of Mother Earth. Once connected you will feel that energy flows through your feet up your legs into your torso, filling your heart, up to the crown of your head. If you feel comfortable, place your bare feet on the earth while sitting or standing.

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“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”

~ Khalil Gibran ~

If you are interested in participating in a Mindfulness Outdoor Experience (MOE) and are within an hour or so of Albany, NY we can schedule individual or group sessions. Don’t let weather stop you. We have been in the woods during a rain storm and stayed dry under the canopy on a summer day. The sun greeted us upon our departure. Autumn, my favorite, we dress appropriately for the weather. Winter – we can use snowshoes if the snow is high and boots if not.

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In the meantime, I’ll be in the woods waiting for you.

Love and Light!


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Spirit of Dragonflies on Business Talk Radio – Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Very excited to share that I will be interviewed on Business Talk Radio this Friday, 8/28/20 @ 2:36 pm EST. to share information about Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC.

I will be sharing my story and discussing my business. Just click on the link below on Friday afternoon if you are interested in listening.

https://businesstalkradio1.com/studio-three/
https://tunein.com/radio/Busness-Talk-Radio-s297288/ 

I’m looking forward to sharing my own experience and how Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC will help others through Life Coaching sessions, Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences, Therapeutic Touch sessions, and essential oils.

As most of you who follow me are aware, connecting with nature is a major part of my own life. Finding peace and joy in life through connecting to nature has been a help in times or stress throughout my life. This has been especially important during the pandemic to maintain a sense of peace and joy.

Many people are anxious, fearful, and unsure of what is happening and want to feel safe again. Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences have been very helpful to those who have joined in the experience. Everyone has shared how peaceful they felt as we left the forest, how they felt more connected to nature and had a new sense of inner peace.

For those interested in individual experiences we incorporate Life Coach with the Mindfulness Outdoor Experience. Each individual creates a list of steps to take to continue the focus on maintaining peace and joy in their daily life.

If you are free on Friday I would love if you take a few minutes to join us.

Love and Light!


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Finding Beauty and Hope In Nature

During these trying times, everyone needs to remember to focus part of their day on self-care. Whether that is five minutes of breathing, exercising, creating a healthy meal, meditating for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, painting, or spending time in nature. Stress is not good for our bodies, minds or spirit. For me, meditation and being outside in nature have allowed me to maintain my health, sanity, and connection to spirit.

Today I had the pleasure of visiting Pine Hollow Arboretum which is located a short way from my home. This has become my home away from home during the worldwide pandemic. Being in nature, walking the trails, listening to birds, walking barefoot, enjoying a sit-spot, and taking time to be mindful has been perfect way to enjoy life and get away from the news for short periods every day.

“Magic is seeing wonder in nature’s every little thing, seeing how wonderful the fireflies are and how magical are the dragonflies.” ~ Ama H. Vanniarachchy ~

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When I first arrived at the pond I noticed dragonflies of all sizes. This is not always the case and the varying sizes was a welcome surprise. They flew over my head, around me and through the reeds.

There were so many dragonflies flittering near the pond along with frogs of all sizes jumping and croaking. With the frogs croaking and birds singing what a lovely serenade.

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The trees were especially beautiful throughout the trails tonight. Although it was hot, the shade of the trees provided a welcomed relief from the heat.

Leaf shadows decorated the trees throughout the walk. I took some time for a sit-spot, breathing, and reflecting. Such a peaceful experience finding beauty and hope in nature.

My daughter gave birth to a daughter at home three weeks ago. She did not want to deliver in the hospital as her husband and her little boys would not have been able to visit. A home deliver was the best choice for her family. Thinking about my new granddaughter and watching the dragonflies lay their eggs gave me hope. Hope that our world will continue. We will overcome the pandemic, the political unrest, the illness and death, the separation from loved ones, economic uncertainty.

My new granddaughter will be remembered by her home birth during the pandemic. Her four year old brother present immediately after her birth to count her little fingers and toes. Her 18 month old brother not really understanding for the first three day. He has overcome his sadness, since nicknamed her Babe.

The dragonfly larvae may stay in the water for up to three years. This gives me hope as they have been around since the beginning of time, surviving catastrophes throughout the centuries. Dragonflies have been on Mother Earth for over 300,000 million years and here they are today still reproducing.

During the pandemic my family has witnessed the marriage of my great-nephew in North Carolina on Zoom. We attended a funeral service for a very close young friend. Then the birth of my granddaughter. We will soon celebrate the birth of another new family member in October. Life goes on.

We have to continue to have hope for a better future. If we could each focus on the future, on staying healthy we will be ready for the other side of the pandemic. What can we each do to bring beauty and hope in our lives?

We can exercise, eat healthy, meditate, spend time in nature. This is what has allowed me to maintain hope during all of the recent changes. I am one of the fortunate ones who has been working remotely, lucky enough to have walking trails nearby, healthy food to eat and prepare at home, electric, water, medical insurance. Not all have the same during the pandemic and I keep them all in my thoughts and prayers.

The one thing I can do while not able to be with others is to take care of myself. Self-care has been very beneficial. To keep sanity, someone living alone needs to have ways to maintain their health. If you are living with others, the house can seem small and crowded, even if you live in a large home. We all can benefit from self-care. For me, nature has been my go to. You may prefer exercise, running, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, creating or taking a nice bath. Even if you only take ten minutes a day, do yourself a favor and take time for yourself. If living with others, encourage them to do the same.

Please take care of yourself and allow yourself some time for self-care. This is more important now than ever.

If you already take the time, what are you doing to add self-care in your life? Please share.

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!


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Connecting With Nature – A Welcomed Retreat for Our Eyes

“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the winter do you hibernate? Do you spend too much time indoors on the computer, texting on your cell, answering a barrage of never ending emails, watching television for hours at a time? Or, do you get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature and the fresh air?

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After sitting at a computer all day, responding to texts, traveling in my car for work and being cooped up inside my body, mind and soul call out for time in nature. For me, being outside in the cold fresh air is invigorating. Taking long walks in the woods, in the summer walking barefoot, sitting near a tree, on a bench or in the winter lying in the snow letting the snowflakes tickle my cheeks is an awakening experience.

During my last eye exam the Ophthalmologist asked if I spent time in nature and I said, “Yes, as often as possible.” Even though I’ve had glasses since 2nd grade (didn’t really wear them as prescribed until I was 19) my eyes have been improving over the last several year. This time he shared that my eye muscles are very healthy and my prescription was reduced once again. That was the first time I learned that being in nature can strengthen our eye muscles.

I’m not a doctor but have read, spoke with doctors and through my own experiences noticed that when sitting at the computer all day I don’t blink enough, my head and neck are bent for long periods of time, and there is little movement as my eyes focus on the screen or my cell when answering texts. This effects my posture and the constant typing and use of the mouse effect my fingers, hands, arms and shoulders.

What better way to counter act this daily strain than by taking a break from sitting at the desk and taking a walk outside. Or, stopping on the way home for a nice walk in nature. The varying colors of nature benefit the eyes. I found this article on the benefits to children’s eye health to be interesting:

https://opto.ca/health-library/playing-outdoors-can-help-maintain-childrens-eyesight

Here are some pictures of two of my grandchildren enjoying nature. Whether picking blueberries (eating more than what went into the bucket), sauntering through the woods, hugging and/or talking to trees, walking barefoot in the grass they all enjoy spending time in nature.

Part of the benefits to the eyes is due to the color green which is soothing and another reason is the eyes relax while in nature and benefit from a workout just like the muscles in our legs. Here is an article I found on the effects of a green environment:

https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/05/health/colorscope-green-environment-calm/index.html

When walking or sitting in nature we look up, out in the distance, and close up at nature’s gifts, giving our eyes a work out. (You can also stop throughout the day and do a figure 8 movement with your eyes for additional exercise.) We also give them a workout as we check out the movement of the little critters skittering from here to there, busy no matter the season. By sitting still in the sit-spot I noticed that they seem to have little roadways to and from their nests. You can also watch rabbits on their adventures. They stop a little longer here and there along the way. If you are still and down wind they may not even notice you. I’ve had this happen with deer. They walk by without noticing if you are still and they can’t smell you.

Don’t get too close to the squirrel or you will hear them shriek like this little guy. I was sitting in a sit-spot at the bottom of a tree in Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, NY when I heard a shriek. I looked out to the trees around me but couldn’t find where the noise was coming from. Thinking it was a bird I looked up. There a few feet above my head, was this squirrel running up and down the tree. I stood up slowly backed away from the tree. She ran up the tree trunk to the branch above. The shrieking did not stop. Look at her tail giving a warning signal. As I looked around in the next tree I noticed a nest. She must have been warning me to stay away from her nest. She finally quieted down and jumped to the other tree. I quietly went on my way so she could relax and found another tree.

I could not share my own recording as my recordings have recently disappeared from my cell but found this video on YouTube. This is what the squirrel alarm sounds like:

 

The shrieking can last for quite some time and become very loud. Once again, watching the squirrel and checking out the area gave my eyes a nice workout and I learned a little more about nature. It was the first time that a squirrel has come that close to me in a warning stance. Guess I chose the wrong tree for my sit-spot and she was not willing to share.

Along with observing squirrels, mindfully sitting in my sit-spot just before sunrise allowed me to witness the awaking of the forest. There is a slow illumination along the tops of the trees which gently seeps through the gaps in the trees eventually illuminating the forest floor. As it casts it’s light the yellow leaves of the Aspen trees appear to glow. Some of the leaves slowly hitch a ride on a slight breeze, spiraling round and round until softly landing on the branch of a Hemlock tree. There were so many decorating some of the trees  it resembled a Christmas tree.

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The leaves were the decorations, with the sunlight reflected in the morning dew the lights. I didn’t have a camera in the morning to capture the dew reflecting the light because I was enjoying the moment. Some spiraled gently to the forest floor, greeting those who came before, layering the earth in a blanket of leaves.

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Looking up at trees towering above I witness the mighty tree stretching up into the sky above with its many arms reaching out in all directions. Bare in the Fall and Winter this is the resting period as it awaits a bursting of renewal in the Spring.

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My eyes wander far, then closer and closer until, once again, I witness the scurrying of the chipmunks and squirrels gathering acorns and carrying them back to their shelter.

We should not just saunter and enjoy the benefits of nature ourselves. Sharing a nature connection with children is the best way to keep them healthy and teach them about the benefits of nature and connecting with their environment. Plus, their little eyes are always scanning the environment which is a plus for their eye health because many of the children today spend too many hours in front of a screen, many times holding a device too close to their eyes. We are only beginning to see the effects.

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than one seeks.” – John Muir

The benefits of nature are far reaching. It reduces anger, fear, and stress while increasing pleasant experiences and we become healthier, more creative, and more aware of our natural environment.

So get outside, saunter in the woods, near a stream, ocean, local park, garden, in your own backyard, take some children with you and explore. While outside look up at the stars, clouds, the tree tops, trails, the bark, flowers, the critters, dragonflies, and a little closer at the insects. Don’t forget to touch the bark, the leaves, the grass and bend down to smell the flowers. Walk barefoot and feel the earth beneath you. Sit for a while and take in your environment.

Remember while you are viewing the natural world and strengthening the muscles in your eyes you are also strengthening other muscles in your body, increasing your lung capacity by breathing in fresh air, expanding your mind and spirit. It is a win-win situation.

If you are interested in learning about mindfulness outdoor experiences and how to slow down and connect while in nature please email me or complete the attachment below. I would love to hear from you.

In my next post I will share some upcoming Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences that I will be leading in February and March.

Love and Light!


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Mindfulness Outdoor Guide

Another year of fulfilling dreams – goals.

This year has been another year of fulfilling dreams/goals. On my vision board is a photo of a group of people walking along a trail in the woods single file. Earth Walk and Outdoor Guide are words on this board and in October I sauntered with 50 other classmates through the woods quietly experiencing nature at its finest. With the correct clothing everyday is a good day to be in nature.

Very excited to share that I am now a certified Mindfulness Outdoor Guide and received a Wilderness First Aid certificate.

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Attached is a copy of my Mindful Outdoor Guide Flyer.

Mindful Outdoor Guide Flyer

I am looking forward to beginning this life journey. Sharing the joy of mindfully sauntering through the forest and guiding others in the experience so you too can learn how to enjoy the health benefits and peace of this experience on a daily basis.

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Over the last several years I have been able to share experiences in the forest with others however after 9 days at Kripalu I have some additional knowledge to share for a total emersion – Grounding, Forest Bathing, Fox Walk, Owl Eyes, Sit Spot, Breathing techniques and so much more.

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Luckily there are several places available to share this experience. More information to follow as I prepare the programs that will be available. There will be a program for small children, teenage youth and adults of any age. We will not be hiking but more of a quiet saunter through the woods. If you have a location and would like to bring this experience closer to you we can discuss this as well.

More to come!

Love and Light!!


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Vision Board – International Dark Sky – Bryce Canyon National Park

My cousin and I have been planning a camping trip through Bryce Canyon National Park and other locations in southern Utah for over a year with Bryce being our first stop. I wasn’t sure what Dark Sky was until my cousins shared that we would be staying somewhere with we could enjoy it. She told me to look this up online and when I did it surprised me. On my vision board is a photo of the Milky Way taken on the new moon at Dark Sky. It was something that I have been wanting to witness but was not sure the name or where to see this. Also, I have photos of Utah with the word Travel over the top.

When she picked me up on August 28th at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV we witnessed not one but three rainbows. Unfortunately I didn’t capture the rainbows that appeared when I arrived but we both felt this was a good sign for our trip.

The first night was spent in a hotel in Cedar City and in the morning we traveled to Bryce Canyon National Park. When we checked in at Bryce they weren’t sure if there were any open tent areas. We rode around and the first three they thought were still open had been taken. It is a first come first serve area so we continued on and found the perfect spot.

After setting up our tent and camping area we went to the visitor center to see what events were occurring during our stay. They shared that Bryce had just received it’s International Dark Sky certificate and they were going to have a astrophotography walk on Saturday night. It was Thursday, we were told to arrive by 8 am on Saturday morning to request one of twenty tickets to reserve our spot. I had my camera and a couple of camera lenses, my cousin was using her cell phone. My plan was to arrive at 7:30 am and wait for them to open so we could be the first in line.

Saturday morning came and we arrived at the building at 8:01 am. We went straight to the counter and were given two tickets. I spoke with the ranger to ensure that I would be able to take the hike slowly as my atrial fibrillation causes me to slow down at times. He said it would be a slow pace and there would be three stops along the way to take photos. Luckily I had purchased a small tripod in case it was needed – it would be on this venture.

Saturday we hiked along some of the trails, then I took a nap to prepare for the evening’s adventure scheduled from 8 – midnight. My camera batteries were charged and at 7:30 pm we headed over ready for whatever happened.

This is a picture of the trail we would walk on once darkness set in. As you can see we had quite a way to hike before setting up on below on the other side of the formation. Our group stood at the top getting to know one another and our photography experience. We were amateurs to experienced photographers coming together to share an experience.

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This picture of the sun setting and in the center behind the distant trees you may notice the smoke from the forest fire that was active in Bryce Canyon during our visit.

We didn’t actually start walking into the canyon until around 9 and found our way to the perfect sight as darkness was setting in and the stars were filling the sky. What a beautiful sight. An amateur with my camera, I wasn’t expecting too much but listened to instructions and was ready for any assistance our group members wanted to provide.

Not only did I capture the Milky Way and the Hoodoos but even captured a shooting star or two throughout our time in the canyon.

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We were told to take at least five of the same shot so we could stack them later but I am still not quite sure what that means. I am sure someone has posted on YouTube exactly how to do this and I’ll check it out when there is time.

Being in nature with a dark sky filled with planets and stars is amazing. The night lights up with so many stars you can actually see the paths you are walking on however we did use head lamps and flashlights – mainly with red filters – to make adjustments to our cameras. Here are some more shots taken during out walk.

As the night sky darkened the stars did their magic and we were in awe.

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Tried to use more white light in this pic

If we could be aware of our effect on Mother Earth and the Universe by dimming street lights, turning off lights that are not being used in buildings and homes, changing the way the lights filter into the night, and allowing more areas to be certified as Dark Sky more people would witness this amazing natural event. Isn’t it time to realize how insignificant petty arguments, obsession with material possessions, and other things and focus on all of the beauty in the world. Life is short in the grand scheme of things and there is so much to enjoy. We should spend more time in nature and more time lifting one another.

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While we are here living life on this planet we can take action to save this beautiful planet for ourselves and generations to come. Being with this big dark sky made me feel small and insignificant, yet, it also made me feel large, energized and worthy of being in the midst of all this beauty. I don’t want a trip to Mars and wouldn’t want to live on another planet – Earth is my home and we all need to figure out a way to live here peacefully with everyone else who shares our home.

This year I have been able to visit California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and have seen several sights that have been on my board to either see for the first time or see again. I will continue to share stories and photos of my trip and let you know if they were on my vision board or written in my journal. Nine days of traveling disconnected from internet, cell, television for the majority of that time was wonderful!

If you are ever in Utah do yourself a favor and visit Bryce Canyon National Park. You will not regret it.

My questions to you is:

Do you have a vision of something you want to see or do? Do you have a vision board placed where you can see it daily? Or, have you written down your dreams in your journal? Please feel free to share your experiences.

Light and Love!

 


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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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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #50 – Trees

Lens – Artists Photo Challenge #50 – so happy to have discovered another photo challenge.

Trees are one of my favorite subjects. Every time I traveled my mother would want to see the photos. She would say, “They are all of trees. Didn’t you see anything else. You can see trees in the yard.” I would tell her that I can’t see those trees in my yard, every location has its own beauty. Watching my grandchildren interact with trees fills my heart and gives me hope for the next generations ability to connect with nature.

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

― John Muir

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“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

― William Shakespeare

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

~ William Blake

“He believed because we evolved in nature, we have a biological need to connect with it. We love nature because we learned to love the things that helped us survive. We feel comfortable in nature because that is where we have lived for most of life on earth. We are genetically determined to love the natural world. It is in our DNA.”

~ E.O. Wilson
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“Trees are poems that Earth writes upon the sky.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

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 “To really feel a forest canopy one must use different senses, and often the most useful one is the sense of imagination.”

― Joan Maloof

Thank you for visiting our beautiful trees and all the beauty they bring to each of us in their magical way.

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This year I am visiting the forest weekly and spending time with trees daily. Each night, weather permitting, before calling it a night I sit in my swing under the tree in my back yard and converse with the glorious trees that bring such pleasure to my life. My goal is to become one with nature and share the experience with others through grounding and forest bathing (shinrin-yoku). It is wonderful that there are words to describe what I have been doing my whole life. If I were to win the million dollars I would purchase forests and preserve them for future generations.

Love and Light!


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Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe ~

“When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art.” ~ Paul Cezanne ~

Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

Love and Light!