Finding Healing With Mother Nature

Posts tagged ‘hiking’

What is it about Nature?

2008_091808kayaking0015So what is about nature that makes people want to spend a day at the beach? Camp in the forest, Kayak waterways, explore caves or swim under waterfalls and generally just be out in nature?

Studies have concluded that communing with nature relieves stress, anxiety and tension.016

In the summer everyone crowds the beaches to stay cool and relax.  There has to be something that draws people to the beach besides keeping cool.  There is!  Being by the ocean does boost your health!  Research has proven the sound of Ocean waves alters brainwave patterns to induce soothing and a deeply relaxed state.

The refreshing salty air is full of negative ions which are charged hydrogen particles that act to fight free radicals. These negative ions also help to balance serotonin levels which is the chemical in the body associated with mood. Negative ions are also in the air around waterfalls, rushing water, such as river rapids and even after a heavy rain!

When you are actually in the ocean swimming, riding waves, surfing or just working up the nerve to dive into the oncoming wave, the minerals in the sand and water detoxify the body.

You run in the sand back to your beach blanket or for exercise.  That warm sun is your main source of vitamin D, Vitamin D releases endorphins that make us feel GOOD.

No wonder we feel so refreshed after a day at the beach!

calm beach

Just looking at nature activates parts of the brain associated with happiness and balance.

Shin Rin Yoku is Japanese for forest bathing and is prescribed by Dr’s to their patients to spend time in nature.  At Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School they have gathered sufficient evidence that women who spend 2-4 hours in a wooded setting on two consecutive days experienced nearly a 50% increase in cancer fighting white blood cells.2008_1129batsto0018

Perhaps this is one reason people love to go camping!

I know many people are in need of spending time in nature because they spend too much time indoors, on the computer or connected to their technology.  Not enough time in nature actually causes one to become more hostile, agitated even depressed.

People are happier when in nature. We love nature because we evolved in it. We need it for our psychological well-being because it’s in our DNA.

In nature time slows down. We lose the urgency of “beating the clock” and so we slow down with nature and begin to adjust into our natural rhythm.

You can’t control Mother Nature. Surrendering to her puts life into perspective that you will adapt to conditions and situations. When you accept that there are some things you can’t control, and accept what is be it positive or negative creates a sense of joy to being alive

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Standing witness to the beauty of nature you feel a sense of awe and joy. From the largest mountain to the tiniest flower you begin to experience your connectedness to all living things.  Taking in the beauty of nature reminds us we are ALL made of the same substance.

In the quiet of nature and its sounds of life you also remember who you truly are, deep down you feel the quiet space within and come to meet your inner self, no longer needing to be or act in a particular way since nature never judges, it just IS. Nature is always in allowance not matter what is happening within it. The simplicity of understanding that nature moves through it’s cycles slowly, rhythmically without fear, worry, judgement or effort gives a sense of calm. You begin to experience the Divinity within it.

Spend enough time outdoors and you will experience it. Call it God, Earth Mother, the Great Spirit or any other name, nature connects you with this powerful, loving presence. You may experience a feeling of not being alone or you may also receive guidance and wisdom to a question or problem. Nature brings you ever closer to your own spirit and to the Divine Spirit.

There are so many reasons why people seek to be in nature. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that it just plain feels good!

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What does the Forest say?

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Throughout my life I retreated to the forest for comfort. Sometimes I walked angrily, other times frustrated tears fell to the soft carpet of leaves and pine needles beneath my feet. As I walked the forest, my footsteps were quieted. In the quiet, I found solace among the trees with each step. I felt the tension falling away. I watched the trees sway gracefully in the breeze and listened to the birds chirp and flit from one branch to another. Letting go of my thoughts I witnessed the beauty around me. Nature bears no conflict or struggle, it merely accepts and bends with the flow of changing circumstances. In its reverent stillness my mind quieted as my heart filled. I was in the moment, just BEING. I was observing nature. Was it observing me? It must have been. I felt so comforted as though the forest understood me. All I felt from my surroundings was LOVE, Unconditional LOVE. In this place I wanted to remain. As I left the forest I felt lighter in spirit, freer in my mind. Cleansed.

I always thought my over active imagination was the reason I loved being in a forest. To my pleasant surprise I have learned that Shinrin-Yoku which means forest bathing is something being practiced in Japan. Forest bathing is literally spending time in the woods for its therapeutic benefit. Science has actually confirmed its healing influence on the body. When you spend time in a woodland setting you breathe in phytonicides, which is the active substances released by the plants and trees to protect them from animals, insects and decomposition. This substance has been studied and concludes that photonicides lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, stress, decreases pain and improves concentration. It also has anti cancer effects.

One of the services I offer are meditative hikes and kayak journeys into the nearby forest of Wharton State park in Batsto, NJ. These journeys are meant to help you:
*Quiet your mind and experience a deeper connection with your higher self
*Listen with your heart to hear the answers you have been seeking.
*Experience a sense of peace and understanding to a higher truth
*Become more aware and conscious of your thoughts and how
they effect you.
*Enhance and deepen the connection between nature and yourself
*Move to a more enlightened state of being by being mindful
of your awareness and attention to the moment.

Before you hit the malls and start the holiday hustle bustle, join us this Saturday, November 29th at 10am. We will be taking an easy 3 mile hike to reflect on the things we are grateful for in our lives. While we are hiking we will be helping a hungry soul. 50% of the proceeds from this hike will go to Sister Jean’s Soup Kitchen in AC, NJ. So register now! Start the holidays in peace and gratitude.003
http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=8idcltcab&oeidk=a07ea3apfzr75e5609f
For more information please visit my website; http://www.fullcirclewellnessllc.com or on Facebook: fullcirclewellnessllc

You’re going the wrong way!

The Pine Barrens of Southern NJ is my home. Though there is nothing barren about it at all!  This area of land is rich in history and has an ecologically sensitive landscape, known for its white sands, tall Pines and Cedars that tower above the winding rivers and bogs. Spend some time here and you’ll feel it has a mystical quality. I have the privilege to explore and hike the scenic trails and kayak the rivers on a regular basis.

I have always been an outdoors person, trekking into the woods to clear my head or hear my heart speak.  I often dreamed of being an outdoor adventure guide. Then I could be outside all the time. Not long ago it was suggested to me that I offer excursions into the woods to help people reconnect with nature and ultimately themselves.  It was such a genius idea! Why hadn’t I ever thought of that? Immediately I planned and prepped for the mindful excursions.

I sent out email invites, posted the event on Facebook and told people about it at any opportunity.  I wanted to keep the group small to 8 people.  I sent out my request to the Universe and WALLAH!! The day of the event arrives and I have 7 ladies!  We hiked, meditated, talked and laughed, rested and walked 4.5 miles. A big feat for some of the ladies.

As we hiked it occurred to me that hiking through a forest can teach you many life lessons, especially about yourself.

How often do we become entangled in the vines of our incessant thoughts? The more we trash to free ourselves, the more entangled we become. It is only when we stop flailing and calm ourselves are we able to find our way out of the tangled mess.

Yet, other times we are headed in a direction thinking we are on the right path, ignoring the tiny voice that says otherwise. Then soon realize that wasn’t the direction we were meant to go. Again, when we stop and listen to our inner guidance or intuition it is only then we can make a course correction and get back on the right path of our intended destiny.

The Pine Barrens is extremely flat terrain with a thick forest of trees and low growing shrubs. There is little to reference your position from, except for the sun and shadows.  Once under the tree canopies it is easy to get turned around or lost.

Not long ago I was hiking a trail for a short 2-3 miles by myself as I usually do. It’s my quiet reflective time and helps me connect with the Divine.

This particular day was cloudy and for some reason decided to make it more of an adventure by going a little off trail and came to a narrow dirt road. I confidently walked believing I was going in the right direction to get back to my car.  I walked and walked, then began to get a bit nervous but I kept walking. “I’ll make it back eventually.” I thought to myself.  Suddenly I heard a voice in my head, “You are going in the wrong direction.”  I kept walking and didn’t pay any attention to it.  A short while later, the voice echoed again, “Turn around, this is the wrong way.”  “No it’s not!” I shouted out loud. Who was I talking to? I kept walking.  Then I began to really question my direction. Was I going the wrong way?  I stopped, looked around, and listened.  Again the voice commanded, “Please turn around and go the other way!” “FINE!” I called out. “I’m turning around! Happy now?” “Yes” I heard in a less urgent tone.

So upon changing my course of direction I found I was indeed headed in the wrong direction.  I eventually found a trail, which was not the one I originally started on and realized was quite a distance from the original trail I had detoured from.

Was the voice my higher self? Intuition? Guardian Angels? Does it really matter? ImageIf I hadn’t heeded the guidance, I would have surely gotten lost.

So what is the lesson? Besides the obvious of take a compass and don’t go off trail? Whether on the trail or in daily life we need to pay attention to our inner wisdom. It truly knows the direction we are meant to be going.

When you feel lost or your mind is entangled with over thinking. Stop, breathe, quiet yourself and listen not with your ears but with your heart. The voice inside you will guide you peacefully, ALWAYS!

So what does hiking have to do with wellness??

Ever since I was a kid, I trekked into the woods  behind our house to explore and be by myself. It was so quiet and comforting among the trees.  Through the years  my hikes in the forest have helped me heal on many levels.  In the silence of  nature I heard the answers I was seeking, I understood lessons I needed to learn and how I kept myself a prisoner of my own mind, believing the thoughts I had about myself were true.  This kept me in fear  which held me back from my dreams and goals. Fear is nothing more than FALSE, EVIDENCE, APPEARING, REAL. My journey’s into the woods helped me to understand this. I’ve come to learn that we are the Architects of our lives. And so, this series of mindful hikes was born out of wanting to share with others the powerful healing qualities nature possesses.

 Forest connection pic

What does Hiking have to do with Wellness?

You may be wondering why I offer hiking excursions when I am a bodyworker. What does one have to do with the other? Well, as a massage therapist I manipulate the muscles and fascia on a person to relieve muscular tension and improve circulation that will carry away metabolites. I am helping that person heal on a more physical level. I may use Reiki energy work or essential oils in a session. Watsu is a massage given in a warm pool. These are all elements of nature. Of course the rest they receive during the massage is beneficial for relaxing the mind and massage helps improve body awareness.
After a massage the person experiences a kind of euphoria from the improved circulation, release of endorphins and time of rest. This may last for a short duration.
Shinrin – Yoku is Japanese for forest bathing. It is actually prescribed in Japan as a form of therapy. Japan has done many studies that prove spending time in nature among trees has a host of healing benefits, such as lowers blood pressure, increases immune function and has anti cancer effects. It was found that the trees emit phytoncides which are an oil that protects the trees. When in the forest this oil is present in the air so is taken in to the body when we inhale.
Couple the physical healing qualities of being in a forest setting with mindfully walking through the trees; your heart rate increases improving blood and oxygen flow, so you are breathing in more of this healing oil.  Increased heart rate also releases endorphins, the feel good hormone. As you admire nature around you, it takes you out of your thoughts and brings you to where you are in that moment. You experience feelings of peace, calm and joy.  You become more aware of yourself.
During our hiking excursions we will be doing some meditation and quiet reflecting which will calm our minds. In the quiet of the forest we experience BEING. Focusing on the moment of here and now and with each breath we take in the protective compounds of the trees. In this experience one learns to become aware of their thoughts and can change them.
So you see, the forest is actually giving you a massage of sorts. One that is healing on ALL levels. Think of it as a massage for the soul.

 Upcoming Events!

 

Click on the links to find out more and to register

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June 12, 2014
9am-4pm
Learn the Japanese healing art of Reiki
Level 1
$250.00
Call for details or to register