Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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Into the Forest – One Step At A Time Finding Inner Peace

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” ~ John Muir ~

One need not go into the woods to hike or even walk very far to enjoy the benefits of nature. You only need to slow down and listen to the leaves crunch under your feet, smell the fresh scent of trees and earth, listen to the birds and the rustle of leaves in the wind to become connected to the natural rhythm of life.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Stop, breathe and look around. Do you see the tiny flowers peeking out below you.

Do you stop to converse with the trees? Stand for a little while and wait for an invite from one of the trees. Of course they will not speak so you can hear them however you may feel an energy from one or two trees tug at you more so than others. Those are the trees you should spend time with. What kind of bark do they have – smooth or thick and rough? Are the large roots on the ground around the tree or are they hidden under the soil? What does the bark feel like? Touch it for a few minutes to see if you can feel the water running up from the roots to the branches above. Imagine how many years this tree has stood in this spot. Imagine all of the people walking through who may never have taken the time to enjoy its company. Imagine what experiences this tree has witnessed. If it is an older tree think of the possibilities – Native Americans, droughts or floods, insect infestation, fires, deforestation of other trees . . .

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

Sit down on a rock and listen to the waterfalls or the birds singing in the trees. Is it cooler in the woods that it was on the road traveling to the woods? Can you distinguish the different types of birds that are singing? Maybe you can hear an owl hooting in the distance or another bird signaling that there is a hawk in the area. Is it quiet near the pond or can you still hear traffic in the distance? What colors are you noticing? I love to notice all of the shades of green to yellow.

Sitting taking in the reflections on the water is my favorite. Last weekend while visiting Yaddo Garden in Saratoga Springs, NY, I slowly walked around the gardens – which are not in bloom yet – and spent some time standing near the pond listening to the small waterfalls across the road. The highway is nearby so there is a constant roar of car wizzing by on their way north and south of Saratoga. Once you overcome the constant drone it becomes easier to hear the bird’s songs and the peace in the wooded area. I stayed with one of the trees a little longer than the others and meditated for a short time in the peaceful environment.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir~

Stop and take notice of the beautiful green moss growing on the trees and rocks. Lean down and touch the cool, moist surface.

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.” ~ George W. Sears, writer & conservationist ~

You don’t have to be in the middle of a thick forest to enjoy nature, you can benefit from sitting on a bench under the shade of a tree in your own yard or in a local park. In the spring you have the pleasure of magnolia blossoms, lilacs, Lilies of the Valley, and many other treasures to enjoy.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” ~ Frank Herbert, novelist ~


Flowers and buds are blooming along streets everywhere. It is beneficial to take time and notice how life continues. From the decay of the winter months new growth appears giving hope for the future. Colors, birds singing, there are smells of earth, flowers, trees in the air, different textures can be seen from tree to tree, leaf to leaf, flower to flower. We just have to open our senses to the beauty and diversity all around us.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” ~ Edward Abbey, novelist ~

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As the sun is setting, notice above in the tree line how some trees are still capturing the sunshine while others are beginning to fall into the shadows.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Sometimes while traveling for work I’ll pull along the side of the road and get out of the car to stretch and take a nature break. One never knows what they will find along the road and taking the back roads is my favorite because there are ponds, lakes, rivers, forests, and parks along the way. My camera is always sitting on the seat behind me however I do not always carry it when I get out of the car. Sometimes it is nice to just walk along slowly and become one with nature.

“Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” ~ Walt Whitman, poet & writer ~

Do you stop to enjoy nature on a regular basis? My goal is to be in nature daily with longer visits on the weekends. At the end of summer I shall be traveling across southern Utah to enjoy sleeping in a tent under the stars with my cousin. One thing I truly look forward to witnessing is Dark Sky when the night will fill with stars that cannot be seen from where I live. It will be magnificent with everyday bringing a new adventure and beauty to take in. In the meantime, Spring is here and there are so many treasures to enjoy at this moment that I look forward to what lie ahead every day.

Love and Light!

 


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Walking and Observing Life

What does pedestrian mean to you? Perhaps this is a great chance to go out and practice some street photography. Maybe you’ll capture something truly “pedestrian” — something that could use a dose of inspiration. Regardless of how you interpret this challenge, I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Walking and observing life – to witness the beauty of people in our communities can bring a sense of peace as you witness the interactions.

Sometimes as we walk through areas where others are in a relaxed state of being the first thing you will notice is the stress has disappeared from their faces. Their pace slows down and they begin to have some fun. This is true whether walking around a flea market enjoying the possibilities, walking in a park and stopping to set up a rope to balance on, sitting on a park bench taking selfies, or setting up a photo shoot in the Veteran’s Memorial Park as others walk along the path. For those of us with camera in hand, walking allows a time to stop and notice nature or people. We get to enjoy life at a slower pace as we witness our world through a slower speed.

When you walk do you slow down to witness or do you walk at a fast pace and miss all the gifts this world has to share? This weekend, take a half hour or more to walk a little slower than normal. If you have a camera bring it with you and stop to notice the birds, butterflies or dragonflies, the pedestrians that are walking the same path as you.

Love and Light!

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

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


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Hidden World of Senses

When thinking of our senses most people think of five – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. There are many more senses than what was taught in school. What about equilibrium (keeping your balance), proprioception (know where your body parts are relative to other parts – close your eyes and touch your nose), hunger (body detects when you need to eat) and many more.

The reality is if you want to expand your senses you first have to be aware of them. This allows you to see your world in a new way on a daily bases. Start small and build until we are open to the world around us. Many times the chatter of our televisions, radios, sounds of our man made environment all of which result in noise pollution drowning out our natural awareness of our other senses. When eating most people eat on the go while in the car or grabbing fast food and quickly eating in front of the television. How many people sit down at a table and eat at a slower pace noticing the color, texture, smells and sounds of the eating experience. How many people stop to feel the temperature of the food as it touches their tongue? The experience is quite different when you slow down and eat in a mindful manner.

Think about when you have an itch on the bottom of your foot, you can reach down and scratch the exact spot on the foot without even looking. What about thermoception – your ability to sense hot and cold. Your brain is responsible for this sense as it monitors your inner temperature letting you know when to throw a blanket over your body, put socks on or remove a sweater. We unconsciously know what to do.

When listening to your environment we ignore many sounds due to the vibrations that we become familiar with in our surroundings. Sound is really only the body interpreting the vibrations in the world around us. Just think of people living near a railroad track, a busy highway, an airport, a busy city – they eventually ignore the loud sounds in their environment. I live near a train track. When the Amtrak train roars across the track my floor, doors, china cabinet shake for a few seconds as it speeds past. After living here for over a year I no longer notice, even when it travels late at night and the vibration passes through a quiet house. Yet, when someone visits me, the loud train rambling on the tracks makes them question how I can ignore it. I don’t ignore it because it no longer is on my radar. Just think about the sounds in your own environment, do others bring it to your attention? Stop and listen to your home with no other distractions except the sound of the refrigerator humming and possibly the furnace or air conditioner. What do you hear? Is there anything that you notice now that you have blocked out over time? Does this mean that we are not affected by the sounds, not necessarily. They could be affecting our unconscious and causing us to be a little anxious or tense without our awareness. Maybe this is what we really need to pay attention to. Just a thought.

I began to focus on the smaller things – the sound of the leaf as it drops to the ground,  the dripping of water as it hits the ground, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves which reminds me of the faint sound of chimes, the sound of snow or dried leaves crunching under foot. Recently I began to record the sounds to add into a meditation video. The sounds of our environments are individual. Birds chirping in upstate New York are not the same sounds as birds chirping in the Amazon. How would we know if people in other areas did not make these sounds available to us or if we didn’t visit other locations. Even though I focus on mindful living, I know I am limited by where I have visited and my surroundings. My body and mind are capable of so much more awareness. This is also true of the people I meet and learn from and this is why I reach out to people all over the world to broaden my own knowledge and perception of the world.

Edward O. Wilson speaks to this in the YouTube video below.

If you are like me after watching this video you will begin to wonder what else you are missing around you and want to pay attention to the world we share with plants, animals, and all of nature. Add some play into your life, remember how in inquisitive and interested as you were when a child.

Becoming one with nature

Becoming one with nature

What can you do today to open up your senses to become inquisitive to the expansive universe around you? Can you turn off the television and sit in the natural sounds of your environment for five minutes, fifteen, twenty? Walk barefoot to open up your senses in your feet? When you sit down for your meal sit at the table, take in the color, scent, texture/shape of your food. As you place the food on your fork/spoon listen for the sound of the different items – soft versus a piece of meat, hard item. As the food touches your mouth – feel it on your lip, tongue, roof of your mouth, teeth as you chew. As you swallow take a moment to appreciate the nutrition this food provides to your body. This can be one of many new ways of viewing your world. After trying it at dinner, why not try the same process when walking – touch a tree, feel the ground under your feet, listen to the sounds of the forest. What about when showering – feel the water flow over your body, the silkiness of the soap on your hair, the feel of the water rushing over your feet, the warmth of the water, the sounds of the water as it flows from the shower head. This is only a small part of what you can do to slow down, appreciate life and your senses to include those you weren’t even aware of.

I think to live life to its fullest and enjoy the journey through the natural ebbs and flows, we should learn to appreciate our intricacies of our bodies, our environment, and the natural world around us. Then we can live a life of full of appreciation, we can open our senses and become the actively, creative individuals were were meant to be.

Light and Love,

Sandy