Earth Night Walk Friday, April 21, 2023

Teasel near the pond at Mabee Farm

Please join us for a FREE Earth Night event at Schenectady County Historical Society’s Mabee Farm.

Activities from 4 to 8 pm, including my forest therapy walk from 6 to 7 pm. Enjoy presentations on raptors, aquatic life, herbs, kids’ crafts and farm management, with music by Earth’s Children, and a campfire with stories to finish!

Located at 1100 Main Street, Rotterdam, NY, 12150–with the Mohawk River in sight.

A place of reflections: the pond at sunset, Earth Night 2022.

Forest Therapy Walk August 21st

At the minimum, I had hoped for a lovely day among the shady apple trees, next to the pond and tiny bubbling stream–even out on the hot July grass. As we slowly moved past water lilies and the nodding raspberry bushes, then shared in a circle later, the morning expanded into an even larger and more important experience for everyone, far beyond what I had hoped for.

This is some of what the participants shared after my first forest therapy walk in July:

[I have] become more aware of the small and large beauty around us, and the greater possibility and actuality of greater PEACE.

You would only be helping yourself [to do a walk]; you have to disconnect to reconnect.

Wonderful for helping you take yourself to another level of mindfulness…

I am calmer. Slowed down. More peaceful.

Won’t you join me on Sunday August 21 from 10 am to 1 pm in Troy on the next walk?  

It’s FREE. (More information below and in the pdf flyer.)

****Use the Contact Us tab above to register for the event.*****



SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2016, 10 AM TO 1 PM

at a six acre private residence in Troy NY

Led by Diane Kavanaugh-Black: Forest Therapy Guide, yoga instructor, local writer & photographer

This introductory walk is FREE, though donations will be happily accepted.

**Forest Therapy is a series of guided sensory invitations into a deeper connection with nature, that takes place in state parks, nature preserves, arboretums, gardens and private spaces. Light hearted and yet potentially profound, the approach slows us down and opens us to possibilities.

**Forest Therapy allows individuals and groups to experience the healing effects of the outdoors and is accessible to everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. The walks are generally under a mile and on easy terrain. No special knowledge or background is needed.

**Nature and Forest Therapy is a research-based restorative practice which comes out of Japanese shinrin yoku or “forest bathing.” Among other benefits, it has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and increase immune function. You may have seen recent articles in the Washington Post, Yoga Journal, USA Today or U.S. News & World Report, or on National Geographic Explorer channel.

**Further information and links to scientific research and media reports about Forest Therapy can be found at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs .

08-21-16 Forest Therapy Walk flyer

Winter Writing Workshop days: January 24 and 25, 2015

Meditative walking, part of the wonderful November weekend at Still Point.

Meditative walking, part of the wonderful November weekend.

On November 1 and 2, folks came together at Still Point and discovered an autumn cornucopia of “still points”–including the smell of a wood stove and simmering soup while we wrote, body and breath awareness in the labyrinth, quiet and bird calls and internal music that fed all the senses.

I managed to finally finish the essay for my tab above: What Is Of-the-Essence? (I hope you take a gander at it, when you get a chance.)

Participants clamored for more, so I’ll be offering Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease once again the weekend of January 24 and 25, 2015.

This time away could even be a holiday gift for yourself or a loved one. Description below; same offering as before, one day or both, same pricing.

Evidence of filling meals for local critters: oak acorn caps and pine cone pieces. Come be filled yourself!

Evidence of filling meals for local critters: oak acorn caps and pine cone seed scales. Come to Still Point and be filled yourself!

Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease

Saturday & Sunday January 24 & 25, 2015

One Day or Two Day options available.

10 am to 4 pm each day

Come and experience how movement can assist your writing and self awareness in a relaxed environment, with periods to write built into the day.

This workshop-retreat offers an excellent opportunity for work on a new or ongoing project (e.g. fiction, memoir, poetry, personal journaling), or just give you quiet time away, as we experience the middle of deep winter in gorgeous upstate New York. You can attend Saturday, Sunday, or both days.

Where is it being held? Still Point Retreat Center is a small-scale, homey/comfy retreat center with a spiritual emphasis, in Stillwater NY, very close to the Saratoga Historical Park, 30 miles north of Albany.

You can commute to the workshop or stay at Still Point.

How much will it cost? $59/1 day, $118/2 days, including options to experience a yoga class, labyrinth walk, snowshoe or walk (weather permitting) and other moving meditation, while supplied with noshes throughout the day. Limited income participant $29/ 1 day, $58/ 2 days.

Accommodations are a separate charge and should be arranged directly with Still Point. Visit the Still Point website at for pictures and information about the cabins & rooms and to sign up for housing. In conjunction with this retreat, you can opt to stay over Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights, depending on what rooms are available at the time you book your accommodation with Still Point.

Included each day in your workshop fee: healthy & tasty breakfast foods in the morning, tea and coffee over the day, home made soup for lunch. If you are staying over, dinner will be shared potluck and the evening will be free time (ideas: write, visit with others, rest, walk on the grounds or read).

How do I sign up for the workshop? We keep this workshop deliberately small so it is advised to sign up as soon as you know you’d like to come. First, let us know you are attending and which days, through the Contact Us page on this website, and second, mail a check to Of-the-Essence Holistic Wellness, P.O. Box 1344, Troy NY 12181 or contact us for cash payment options.

Midnight blue pales to day: dawn through the Welcoming House meditation room window.

Midnight blue pales to day: dawn through the Welcoming House meditation room window.

Welcome to Of-the-Essence!

If you’ve been by lately and are looking for classes, please read the latest posts at the “Class changes or cancellations” and “Mini-Workshops” tabs. Yes, changes, already!

Early autumn at Partridge Run

Early autumn at Partridge Run

This website is “under construction,” as we all are:  in process, expectant and wondrously growing, simultaneously feeling the discomfort of new life coming forth.  If you’d like, please “follow” us by email or RSS feed to keep up with the growth, because it is indeed exciting.

As my photo here for fall shows, creek water blurs the details behind a single gorgeous golden leaf.  There’s a sense of hanging, and learning to be comfortable with hanging within the swirling, perhaps moving with what’s around, or not moving. But light glowing through it all.

My hope is to bring that kind of inner stability and peace to my students and the community.

So we appreciate your patience as we build our pages and schedules. Thank you in advance for your feedback, as well.

Please check out the autumn mini-workshops, and Saturday November 2nd Writing & Yoga workshop-retreat, in the tabs above.

Here’s to seeing you around the Capital Region, and on the web.

Jai Bhagwan (May the divine be victorious within you)!