This past weekend I led two different Mindful Outdoor Experiences, one on a mountain, the other by a river. Both creating space for participants to pause, breathe with intention and experience present moment awareness through the senses. Research continues to support what we already know and because of what nature writer Mary Reynolds Thompson says “the ancient Earth-consciousness that resides within you-within us all-that you can access any time, in any place, even in the midst of the busiest city….four billion years of Earth wisdom are embedded in your cells.” Participants say these excursions allowed them to notice how often we are distracted and how to come back to the present moment; that being outside and gardening (although a wonderful experience) feels different than just ‘being’ in nature and not even realizing how much time outdoors is needed for rebalancing and realligning the psyche and the soul.
Last fall I graduated from Kripalu’s newest School of learning, Mindful Outdoor Leadership. “This training—which combines forest bathing, yoga, Ayurveda, outdoor skills, and an overview of relevant research on nature’s health benefits….. is designed for those who are called to share nature’s gifts by integrating their love of the outdoors with mindfulness.” Meaningful connection with the generative powers of nature is an essential part of a healthy and balanced life. With the average American now spending about eleven hours a day on screens and ninety percent of our time indoors our health is suffering. I now humbly call myself a certified Mindful Outdoor Guide, trained by the knowledgeable Kripalu faculty who are a ‘dedicated group of earth stewards, environmental protectors, and nature lovers deeply committed to sharing with you the wondrous gifts of Mother Earth.’
Recently, I read an article, Ice Wisdom, The Ice is Speaking, about the effects of climate change. As long ago as 1963, two young Eskimo-Kalaallit men ‘noticed that water was coming out of the Big Ice way up the wall. When they returned and told the Elders of that strange phenomenon – no one believed them. How could water move, when the temperature has been less than minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 ºF) for about three months. Later that winter other Elders went hunting and upon returning confirmed that water was trickling out of the Big Ice at the Big Wall. That became the first sign that something was amiss – not at home – but in the world.’ We can no longer ignore what is happening with our planet. For many years now I have been offering therapy and programs that include nature as a co-therapist. Consistantly, attendees have found their participation meaningful, informative and healing. I must confess, these offerings help me as well. The work I do and how I live my life must mirror my intention for this planet I call home; it must be sustainable, efficient and regenerative.
For more information on joining one of my next mindful outdoor events or bringing my services to your group or organization please contact me at www.livingbalanced.org. Although studies continue to document the numerous health benefits of time in nature; come see for yourself how being with the living earth and the more than human world can calm the nervous system, quiet the mind and sooth the spirit. See you on the path.