Spirit of Dragonflies, LLC

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


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Mindfulness Outdoor Experience With Children

Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences (MOE) can be enjoyed at any age. Generally the walks have been with adults but I did have a walk in the winter with a 2 year old and twin 9 year olds with their Moms. The Mom of the two year old wasn’t sure the little guy would be warm enough or last too long. She was quite surprise when he walked the 1/2 mile in and out. He hugged several trees and loved the sit-spot.

There were two other times when children joined a MOE. Last year a 9 year old joined the adult walk and it was her first time seeing snow. She and her mother were from South Caroline. She sauntered in silence and enjoyed the 20 minute sit-spot. A couple of weeks ago another 9 year old joined us. He walked quietly, discovered different wonders of nature and made his own mandala.

Recently I had the privilege of guiding four Moms and their little ones – 3 were three years of age and one was 17 months – through the woods at Pine Hollow Arboretum. When working with children the focus changes and there is a little more talking than on an adult experience which is mainly silent.

We started off with some stretching, twirling, reaching to the sky and touching Mother Earth. Then we learned about deer ears and how to do a fox walk. The children started off walking very close to their Moms and not interacting with each other very much.

The little boy walked was not afraid and walked closely next to me chatting about what he was seeing. He loved touching the moss, leaves, pine cones and more. After a while three year old girls overcame their shyness and began to walk next to me. At some point during the walk they started to hold my hand and let me help them in the slippery muddy areas. They shared their fear of snakes. We discussed how important snakes were and that as long as they didn’t come near us we would be fine. Luckily for them we didn’t run into any snakes along the trail. I have met snakes along the trail while exploring Pine Hollow Arboretum in the past.

After a while we decided to be a little creative and they gathered pine cones, acorns, leaves, small pine branches, pine needles, sticks, and some moss – it had to be already lying on the ground – and we tried our hand at creating. Even the little 17 month old helped out.

It wasn’t really an Mandala but they had fun gathering and creating. We took a picture and left this as a gift for anyone traveling that way.

Then we went on to touch the different texture of tree trunks along the trail and the moss covering the fallen trees. Each one of the little ones chose a tree to hug.

They all loved exploring the moss on the logs and we discovered places where the red squirrels had a family feast. It looked like a food trough in the nooks and crannies of the fallen logs. And, sometimes at the bottom of trees we found piles of acorns.

They really enjoyed the adventure and exploring all of the gifts of the forest. We checked out the different sizes, shapes, and textures of the leaves, and height of trees. They smelled the leaves, tree trunks, moss and dirt.

One of the little ones was down on the ground and I asked her what she was doing. She said, “I’m a lizard.” It was obvious wasn’t it. She was having such a great time.

Friends were made during the experience. They held hands, laughed, hugged trees, discovered nature together.

During the walk I showed them this tree with the big hole. I stuck my head inside and looked up as I called out “Anybody home.” Then they all wanted to be held up to check this out and call inside too. We discussed who might be living in the tree and they had some ideas.

Truthfully this was just as much fun for me as it was for them. I am looking forward to my next mindfulness experience with little ones. At the end of the walk we sat at the picnic table and they shared what they liked about the experience. Children are amazing and parents can learn a great deal from their children. We do not need to be childish but being childlike allows us to connect with nature, slow down our thoughts, relax a bit and have fun.

After we left I received a text from one of the Moms sharing that when they arrived at her house her son got out of the car and went over to their tree and hugged it. We are hoping he will become a lifelong tree hugger. The next day I received an email from the ‘lizard’s’ Mom telling me that her daughter was dreaming in the night and called out, “C’mon guys, let’s go.” Her Mom thinks she was dreaming of being out in the woods with the kids.

If you have little ones, get them out in nature and let them have some freedom to explore. Get down on the ground with them to check out the holes in the trees, the smell of the earth, the taste of wild peppermint, cold water on your bare feet, the textures of the tree trunks and leaves. Being in nature lowers your blood pressure, lowers your stress hormones, allows you to breath in fresh air, and receive the benefits of the essence of the forest. Let the little ones run barefoot in the grass and feel the dirt under foot. Let them crawl on the ground like a lizard, roll down the hill, jump in puddles. You will notice they will sleep sounder and you will too.

Organized sports are fine but free play is better if you would like to raise creative, playful, less stressed, happy children. Plus, the sports playing fields are generally heavily sprayed with pesticides and can be stressful for many children. Being out in the natural forested area is a healthier environment. If you are concerned about tics there are many natural deer free sprays. Plus, you can give the children a shower once home to remove any tics before they attach to the skin. There are so many benefits to children and their parents being out in nature. You can share a fun experience, laugh, and learn together in a stress free environment. You can build a loving, caring relationship while connecting to the natural environment. We are not separate from nature, we are nature. So connect and enjoy!

If you would like more information on how to enjoy being in nature with your children or about Mindfulness Outdoor Experiences please feel free to email me at spiritofdragonflies@gmail.com.

Love and Light


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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.

https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/lens-artists-photo-challenge-50-trees/

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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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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I’d rather be . . . – WPC

Although I am quite content to be doing exactly what I am doing in the moment, whether that be washing dishes, vacuuming, dusting, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow . . . Each daily task brings a sense of being in the moment, enjoying life. This week we are asked to share what we would rather be doing, which is a bit hard when I sit here doing exactly what pleases me, so I will think about a nice sunny day and what I would rather do given the choice on such a day.

I’d rather be . . . sitting on my front porch with a glass of iced mint tea reading a book or, if the grandchildren were here, playing with the toys on the other end of the porch. There is nothing better than sun, sheer curtains dancing in the breeze on a nice warm, sunny day.

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If I were not home, I’d rather be . . .

Exploring woods and nature with my children and grandchildren . . . Hugging trees . . . meditating at the ocean, lake or stream while listening to the water . . . walking barefoot . . . Earthing . . . anything outside in nature . . .

I’d rather be . . . creating – taking photos, making jewelry, preparing blends of essential oil roller bottles, facilitating Vision Board classes . . .

I’d rather be . . . Sledding with my family at the golf course . . .

I’d rather be . . . Always with camera, book, and notebook maybe enjoying a latte and treat . . .

I’d rather be . . . Anywhere on the water enjoying my kayak, nature, birds singing, quiet of the evening . . .

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Enjoying simple pleasures – feeling very blessed. LIFE IS GOOD!

Now, it’s your turn. What would you rather be doing? If you’ve got more than one hobby, don’t be shy — you’re welcome to share the myriad ways in which you’d prefer to be spending time.

If you would like to view other photos submitted for this week’s photo challenge or would like to submit your own, click on the link below: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/rather/

Love and Light!


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Magic in Nature

A week ago Monday and again on Sunday a friend bundled up and took a walk in the nature preserve behind my home. We placed my new Nikon camera in the backpack and headed out the back door. Each day brought its own beauty. One one occasion we went out after there was a freeze and on the other it had warmed and their was some snow on the ground.

After walking through the woods for a while we decided to pull out the camera to see if we could capture the magic of the droplets that looked like little crystal lights on the limbs.

Droplets delicately hanging from the thin limbs

Droplets delicately hanging from the thin limbs

It was breathtaking and very fragile. If we moved too quickly the droplets fell to the ground. My friend sneezed and several fell as I was taking a picture. We laughed and began to walk a little more cautiously. Below is a close up of one of the droplets.

Look closely and you can see the reflection of a pine tree

Look closely and you can see the reflection of a pine tree

As we moved on toward the pond I wanted to capture the beautiful colors of the reddish tree with greenish-white moss but discovered a little surprise after the photo was taken.

Initials found in a tree

Initials found in a tree

It wasn’t until I went to check the photo that I notices the initials. There was a thin layer of ice on the pond and I became fascinated by the leaves floating in the water just under the ice. They resembled a gel candle with flowers suspended within.

Fallen leaves caught within the ice

Fallen leaves caught within the ice

I must have taken ten photos of the leaves in the water. The picture below is one that I felt especially connected with. Some of the leaves are frozen within the pond, while a couple are suspended in between freezing and free, and two others are on top of the water but appear to have their underside caught in a thin top layer. You can see the water froze while in movement.

 

Leaves in various stages of freezing

Leaves in various stages of freezing

In the photo below you can see even more closely that moment in time was captured when it became frozen. There is a little wave in the water that froze while in movement. It seems as if the water and leaves where enjoying the flow when the icy air capture them in the moment.

Love this! A moment captured in time.

Love this! A moment captured in time.

Then while sitting and enjoying the view one straggler leaf floated along on top of the ice as if skating.

The lonely skating leaf

The lonely skating leaf

It was a beautiful experience and every time I hike out in back there is a new discovery. This time it was a wooden bridge.

Looks like it is slanted but it is really due to the way the boards are laid.

Looks like it is slanted but it is really due to the way the boards are laid.

There is a brook that runs through the preserve as well as a couple of ponds. It is a treasure right behind my home. I feel so blessed. This is me touching a tree to soak up the energy of Mother Earth. As you can see from this photo the ice was no longer clear and smooth. It had frozen, melted a bit and after the snow froze again. It will no longer have the clear smooth surface.

Soaking up the energy of Mother Earth through the tree

Soaking up the energy of Mother Earth through the tree

What I have discovered while being in nature with a camera in hand is that I slow down and begin to focus on the close up as well as the whole of the forest. It is in the close up view that we can see a whole world that most people miss in their busy lives. If we could all learn to take time to slow down and enjoy the small things we may just learn to live with less and enjoy life more.

Love and Light,
Sandy


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Revitalized after a walk through the wilderness

If you read my earlier post you know that the morning started a bit down due to the cutting down of the trees near my home. After a nice long walk in nature where I recorded a babbling brook on my iPhone, listened and watched birds at play flying from tree to tree, I began to feel happy again knowing that there is plenty of wildlife and trees quite close by.

When I saw the five trees merged as one I had to stop and take a photo. (see below) While admiring this stand of trees, I noticed there were several groupings of trees quite similar to this one however they were fused together in different areas along their trunks. Feeling grateful to be with these beautiful trees, I had to stop and give them a hug. We can gather so much energy from the trees I can’t figure out why others aren’t doing the same. They are givers of life, shade, protection. Each unique in its own special way. Walking in nature brings peace within that I wish could be shared with everyone.

Five trees becoming one

Five trees becoming one

The fifth tree is peeking through the branches. When I was a child we would visit my brother-in-law’s family camp and I was always impressed by the stand of cedars that had become one very large tree. When I purchased my first home, the first thing my husband and I did was dig up 4 Cedar trees from camp and planted them closely together in a circle in our yard. They grew together like those I remembered in my youth. Trees are something we plant knowing that we may never enjoy their full potential. It may be the next generation reaping the benefits. Many trees do not reach their peak in our own lifetime unless we live a very long life. If you want to enjoy the trees that you are planting, plant them early in your life so you can enjoy them.

Not sure what these are but they were quite beautiful

Not sure what these are but they were quite beautiful

We came across these interesting plants. They were on a vine that had wrapped itself around a bush. When the sun peeked through the tree-line the little puffs resembled ice crystals. They were quite beautiful.

Vine interwoven in a bush

Once again, nature has revitalized me. I am in my happy place, content knowing that nature is only a short walk away. The trees in the adjoining yard have been felled but my landlord has not touched those in this yard. They should be safe for another year. I shall hug them again tomorrow to show my appreciation for the shade, protection from the wind the provide and for their natural beauty. Life is peaceful once again!

Love and Light,
Sandy