Forest Therapy Experience at Hope Club Garden: Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6-8 pm

 

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On the night of my introductory talk this early June, rain gushed out of the sky, pooled in the streets, and alternated dark and light, heavy and sprinkling. A small group gathered around the cozy kitchen table at Hope Club in Latham, New York, and shared our deep experiences of nature, along with what science tells us about the healing effects of the natural world.

Because of the cooler temperature and the storms, we stayed indoors and sank our senses into photos of nature. Over pizza and salad, we talked about how being in or even thinking about the outdoors moved us–from thoughts of illness or anxiety to the “blessings of blooms and butterflies,” as one participant put it.

The scary and rushed sensation of getting to the building through rush hour traffic and bad weather faded; somehow, we became more ourselves.

It was decided, unanimously, I’d return to Hope Club to do an actual walk-experience, and this will happen in their beautiful garden on Thursday, July 20, from 6 to 8 pm.  Again, the evening is free, some food will be provided, but please pre-register with Hope Club, (518) 220-6960, or through the Contact Us tab on this blog.

*Programs with Hope Club are open to ANYONE whose life has been touched by cancer, not just patients or family members.

This announcement is cross-posted on my writing blog, OfTheEssenceBlog.com 

July 20 FTG Experience, Hope Club (updated)

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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.*****

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NATURE & FOREST THERAPY WALK

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

Move with Mindfulness returns April 25 & 26!

The path was clear to the Welcoming House, and its meditation room.

The path was clear to the Welcoming House, and its meditation room.

January snow sparkled beautiful and peaceful, the days and evenings glowed, and we wrote. Downy woodpeckers, chickadees and white breasted nuthatches nibbled at the feeders; other small creatures burrowed into the white. We stretched, we wrote.

White breasted nuthatches reminded us to eat when we needed.

White breasted nuthatches doing their work.

We woke our bodies gently on yoga mats, we wrote, we ate and laughed and took a hike, churned our minds, churned our muscles, loosened both, and wrote.

Time expanded and we got work done. (A personal meditation on how that process went for me, entitled “Essay Tangles and Snarls,” can be found at my writing blog, here .)

Busy, busy little critters burrowed through the snow, before our boot prints even got there.

Busy, busy little critters burrowed through the snow, before our boot prints even got there.

Now I invite you to an affordable spring weekend, one day or both, opportunities to stay overnight if you’d like. End of April, there should be wildflowers in the woods, warmer air in the sun, the pond defrosted, the labyrinth uncovered. And writing to be done!

Details below.

April wildflowers: remember them?

April wildflowers: remember them?

 

Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease

Saturday & Sunday April 25 & 26, 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 spring! 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, learn stretches and self-care for writers, do a labyrinth walk and/or hike (weather permitting) along with other moving meditation, while supplied with noshes throughout the day. Limited income participant $29/ 1 day, $58/ 2 days.

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).

Overnight accommodations are a separate charge and should be arranged directly with Still Point. Visit the Still Point website here 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.

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.

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 http://stillpointretreatcenter.com 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.

Winter is finally over! Summer yoga-with-hiking to come…

Still Point labyrinth next to the snow covered pond.

Still Point labyrinth next to the snow covered pond.

…though you would not be able to tell from in this photo from our wonderful February 22 Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop at Still Point. There were hints of spring, however, in the rain that dripped from windows and sunshine that melted the labyrinth path just in time for a meditative walk after lunch, between writing sessions.

Friday evening rain...

Friday evening rain…

...turns into morning sunshine!

…turns into Saturday morning sunshine, just in time!

Due to some health issues which are now resolved–our bodies DO like to surprise us!–March through June have been physical recovery time for me. But now the summer beckons, and a new program will begin at Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center.

Out of the Gym & Into the Woods: Yoga and Hiking at Dyken Pond. 

Did you promise yourself you’d get out into nature more this summer, exercise more regularly? Maybe do some yoga, because you’ve heard it’s so good for you, or you haven’t practiced as often you would like?Want to pay closer attention to your body and breath and deepen your experience in the woods?

You will be guided through at least six to nine yoga stretches and postures (no experience needed!) to warm the body, check in as we hike, and cool off afterwards, bringing awareness and a meditative approach to the gift of hiking various trails at Dyken Pond Environmental Center.

5 to 7 pm on Wednesdays in July and August (except 7/23). Classes are estimated to be $10 apiece with a discount for attending four or more. Yoga experience: Beginner and up. Fitness Level: Able to hike (not just saunter) easy to moderate woods trails for at least an hour. I promise rocks in the paths, tree roots, some up and down walking–and beauty.

Please register through the Education Center:   dykenpond@fairpoint.net or by phone 518-658-2055, and find out more at dykenpond.org or on their Facebook page.

 

Uncurl, stretch and lengthen like this spring fern at Dyken Pond

Uncurl, stretch and lengthen like this spring fern at Dyken Pond

This upcoming weekend–would you like to Move with Mindfulness and Write with Ease?

Overlooking the snowy creek in Finger Lakes National Forest, NY.

Overlooking the snowy creek in Finger Lakes National Forest, NY.

It had been a snowy snowy week, so the hike and nature writing workshop was cancelled at Dyken Pond last Sunday. (One more is scheduled, for March 16.)  There was a mix of disappointment—the snow and trees will be gorgeous!—and relief—I’m so tired of driving in snow and sliding—and questioning Am I a Weather Wimp?

But the wind chills were forecasted to be at about five degrees, an additional few inches (on top of the 12-24 the area received in the previous 24 hours) were on their way the night before, and many local roads were still unplowed.

So really, it’s just winter in upstate New York.

I continue to learn to react to the situation at hand, practicing the spectacularly simple and difficult

Be In the Moment

—as I did near Seneca Lake the other week, when Finger Lakes National Forest beckoned and the roads there were passable.

With snowshoes, I ventured onto an unbroken trail. The path climbed up and up, skirted by the golden cornstalks of a farmer’s field, and beyond that the blue mountain bowl that is filled by Seneca Lake. Leaving behind layers of thoughts and worries, I breathed in the sight of crystal covered branches, the creek that gurgled next to me, invisible under the ice–and the sunlight that broke through.

This upcoming weekend (Saturday February 22) marks a return to Still Point Retreat Center and my Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop. There are still spots available.  I invite you to come and walk your own trail, physically and in your writing life. Use the Contact Us tab above to reserve a space.

Here's a potential path. Step on in, the snow's delightful!

Here’s a potential path. Step on in, the snow’s delightful!

Paying Attention Among the Trees

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

We stopped at the beginning of the Cherry Trace trail, to feel the quality of our breath, and slow down in order to take in the rich sensory experiences to come. Then we hiked up into the hemlocks, many of which were torn off at the same height by a freak wind storm a few months back.

Into the fairy tale dark woods we crunched, listening and looking and tasting and smelling. Part-way, we broke out into a clearing full of sunlight, with sugar crystal snow dancing and sparkling in swirls of wind; we reacted with laughter and gulps of oxygen-rich air.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Afterwards we sat by the wood burning stove and warmed with tea and possible ways to write about nature. That led to discussion of how to be present in our lives, how to pay attention to the details. With pen and keyboard, we wrote and wrote about the day spent with beech trees and princess pines, what we each experienced and what it might mean.

So that’s one day, “Paying Attention Among the Trees.” Would you like to join me for the next one?

Spots are still available February 16 and March 16; see the Winter Walks with Nature Writing tab above for registration information. If you desire a whole day experience, look at the Move With Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop option for Saturday, February 22.

Possible descriptions: like a dead bug, legs to the sky; wild hair-day; resting and snow-covered.

Possible description: dead bug, legs to the sky. Or a wild hair day. What would you jot down in your notebook?