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Looking Up (7/31/22)


It is the last day of July as I write this. Summer is winding down and you can feel the energy starting to shift. School supplies are out at the stores and there is a sense of starting to come down from that intoxicating summer high, from the sense of freedom and playfulness that summer can bring. While summer has never been my favorite season (fall wins that contest hands down), I have enjoyed it so much more the past two years because I have gotten out into it. The past two years have been such an incredible gift of time in nature. During my time outdoors, I have learned to look up. Trees are in their full glory in summer. Various shades of green are layered throughout the forest. Thick canopies create shade and protection, homes and habitats are offered for wildlife, swaying leaves and branches become a greeting, and healing benefits are freely exchanged with humans. "Exposure to forests strengthens our immune system, reduces blood pressure, increases energy, boosts our mood and helps us regain and maintain our focus in ways that treeless environments just don’t. ... Even 20 minutes in a forested space is enough to produce positive changes in the body.

... Phytoncides improve the human immune system by increasing natural killer cell activity. Other benefits from phytoncides include an increase in anti-cancer proteins; a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones; reduced test scores for anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion; and increased scores for vigor." (source: www.fs.usda.gov) I've read several books on the mental and physical benefits of nature this past year (I'm happy to share book recommendations if you're interested). We spent the vast majority of human history learning from the land and living in reciprocity with it. It's no wonder that we are now feeling off as a species in so many ways. We have lost an intimate and vital connection that grounds us.

I will be offering Mindful Outdoor Experiences in the coming months. These are chances to reconnect with nature, yourself, and others in an approachable way. The time that we spent in the forest and what we learned as Mindful Outdoor Guides impacted all of us deeply in our training. There is a sense of inner knowing that these experiences start to tap into. And I am honored and excited to help create a space for people to find their own connection and experience in nature. I invite you to look up this week. Step outside of your house, or pause on a walk to look up into a tree canopy. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? ... What do you feel? ... Take time to simply notice. Maybe take a deep breath and offer a word of thanks to the tree(s). It's a small but significant start to finding our way back home to the land ... and ultimately to ourselves.

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