Summer officially arrived last week and here in Oregon, it has arrived with true fire- fire of The Sun and fires in the forests. The Pacific Northwest has been hit with a once in a millennium "Heat Dome." With this show of nature's power we humans are certainly being put in our place. In this fiery time it feels like time to reach out and say hello following my long silence.
I hope those of you in The Pacific Northwest are safe in this intense heat wave and staying cool and well-hydrated. I have adjusted my time in nature to either the cool of the morning or late afternoon for dipping in the cold waters of Ashland Creek. I am so grateful for easy access to the shade and cool green of nature, especially in this heat wave.
Hand in hand with the extreme heat, the fires have begun, earlier than ever before, with smoke drifting across the border from Northern California. The presence of planes carrying a large cache of fire retardant on their underbelly are ever present in the sky. There has been ash on my car and on my outdoor furniture this past week. Living in The Rogue Valley, we all understand in real time that climate change is here. We are beginning a very early fire season, still carrying the trauma from The Almeda Fire last September, which on top of Covid, dug pretty deep into the group psyche of our community. I am already feeling the stress rising, feeling this extreme heat and looking out my closed windows at the smoky haze hovering over The Cascade Foothills.
The past 14 months since Covid began, has been quite a wild ride for all of us and the fires here have only exacerbated it. Though I have guided a handful of forest therapy walks in the past year, once we were well into The Pandemic and my work had come to a halt, I began learning much about stopping and slowing way down. It took a pandemic to stop me from the constant figuring of next steps; the doing and the planning. At the same time, I was also forced to change my pace to assist my very elderly parents, who depended on me during lock-down. Though it took time, I came to accept my inability to control what was happening outside of myself.
Now, over a year later, much has changed. We all have changed; our world has changed; I have changed. Amongst the Covid carnage; the fear and the death, this period has also brought many gifts. The biggest for me was the slowing down and the isolation which served as an enforced personal retreat. Personal retreat sounds pleasant so that may not adequately describe this past 14 months. It allowed me time to go deep within for self-growth and I didn't do it alone. Thanks to my family; my adult children and my parents, it became a time for serious digging deep into the ecosystem of my own patterns in family communication and relating; pulling myself out of the mud, like a Dragonfly discovering the light for the first time. I am more than grateful for my family members who helped either knowingly or simply through their presence or absence, to shine a bright light on dark and neglected places, pushing me toward a new level of understanding and way of being. I had no choice but to either do the deep painful work or lose myself as well as loved-ones. It has been a year of deep heartbreak in so many ways and as opposites work, also, a time of great healing, love, release, joy and gratitude. I am grateful to my adult children, my sister's and the many healers, teachers, nature and the plant allies who have all been a part of this transformative journey-and the work continues with each breath of each day.
I have discovered many gifts through this time and one of the big ones has been learning how to step back and stop the pushing, the expectations; the grasping and seeing life and circumstances as things that I can manipulate. I've learned to let go of expectations about the environment. I wonder if there will be enough water for my community; if the air will be breathable this summer or ever, and will our homes be safe from raging wildfires?- while keeping an emergency evacuation kit in my car. There are no longer any quick escapes and I feel how we are all in this together. When I think about planning a forest therapy walk and wonder how much smoke and heat we'll be dealing with, I then step back and feel into it and remind myself that now is the time for patience combined with listening to my inner guidance, informed by quiet, slow presence and holding space for myself and others. Patience and letting go is my new normal.
During this slow, deep and painful work, I have discovered a wonderful practice. I was led to it when I used the slow time during Covid to step up my self-care regimen to a few hours each day. This included Self-Reiki; Wim Hof breath work and ice water immersion; skin brushing; Celery juicing, Jin Jing Gong Qigong and forest bathing. This past February, in all of my doing regarding self-care, I discovered, "The Art of Non-Doing" through Yoga Nidra, an ancient practice, sometimes referred to as, "Yogic Sleep." A practice for deep rest, relaxation and calming the nervous system. Soon after, I found a nature-based branch of Yoga Nidra, called, EcoNIDRA™. I was delighted to find a form of Yoga I could practice lying in place, flat on my back, with no place to go and nothing to do for 45 minutes. My whole life has been so much about moving from one thing to the next. I was always stuck on this: stopping and resting meant I was not creating or producing something- proving my worthiness. Once I began attending remote EcoNIDRA sessions, guided by its founder, Kat Novotna, in The Netherlands, I was hooked, feeling a sense of wholeness that had been hard to come by since the beginning of The Pandemic. My sleep became deep and restful; brain fog cleared; creativity bloomed; anxiety lifted and I felt content to be still and linger in the silence for longer than usual. A new level of patience and feeling the world around me with a sense of spaciousness became my new normal. It's amazing what can happen in 45 facilitated minutes of "Non-Doing", journeying through your senses, your body and through The Earth.
This past April, I began a journey along with a beautiful cohort of, "Dragonflies", to become a Certified EcoNIDRA Teacher™. It felt like a perfect fit and complement to my work as a Forest Therapy guide. I am overjoyed and very grateful to announce that I am now a Certified EcoNIDRA Teacher. I've got my wings and am ready to fly far and wide introducing this slow, gentle practice for deep rest and relaxation. Following a vacation break this summer, I will be offering remote EcoNIDRA sessions through Zoom that you can access in the privacy of your home, as well as remote sessions through corporate wellness programs-even Netflix is now offering EcoNIDRA sessions for their employees worldwide. As well, I will be setting up to guide EcoNIDRA sessions in person through Yoga and Wellness Centers and am looking forward to offering one day and weekend EcoNIDRA/Forest Therapy Retreats as well as in collaboration with other healing and wellness practitioners who are interested in partnering with Wild Wellness Guide.
Enjoy this complimentary EcoNIDRA Session when you have some time and privacy to drop into some very deep rest.
Wishing you Peace, Rest and Wholeness,