Build Resilience through Nature Connection

Observe and Interact

The primary intention of The Resiliency Institute is building resilience at the individual and community level through nature connection.  Permaculture design is based on the functions of natural systems and by developing a deep understanding of these functions one can create resilient systems.  Resilience is your “bounce back factor” (Brene Brown) – it is your ability to cope with and recover from stress and adversity.  One well-researched way to build resilience at the individual level is through mindfulness.  Though similar to meditation, mindfulness is not its synonym, rather meditation is a tool that can create mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the cultivating of a witness-self, or non-reactive, inner observer, to assess emotional and mental (cognitive) patterns as well as physical experiences.  Mindfulness reprograms how your body interacts with the internal and external milieu.  For example, you can WATCH anger rise internally after a driver cuts you off without lashing out in reactivity, or when you pause and FEEL the difference in your body before and after doing a yoga pose.  You are paying attention:  observant and sensitive to new states of being. This new state of being is mindfulness, which can reduce stress, create a state of eudaimonia (i.e. well-being, prosperity), and facilitate resilience.

Because we are of the natural world, being in nature on its own reduces stress and builds resilience (more information on nature therapy here).  You can maximize the benefits of nature by utilizing mindfulness techniques while in the presence of the natural world, such as forest bathing, which The Resiliency Institute offers on a regular basis.  However, if you cannot attend a forest bathing outing, consider cultivating mindfulness through the use of a Sit Spot.  Pick a place outside that you feel pulled to – a favorite tree, for example, and sit there, present, quiet, observant. Close your eyes if you need to, dropping into a deeper state of being.  Listen for wind or wildlife – what do they sound like?, what direction are the sounds coming from?, what emotions come up?  Feel the chill of a breeze on your skin or in your hair – where do you feel the sensation and how does your body respond?  If you have multiple trees in an area, can you hear the difference of the breeze between the bare branches of deciduous trees verses the brushy needles of pines.  Catch the fragrance of the earth – can you detect the smell of conifers or soil?  Cultivating mindfulness in the presence of nature creates relationship with a place – you are attending, observant, while the place serves you via a mental, emotional, even physical reset through mindfulness.  “Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver, poet).   This relationship and reciprocity with Earth is integral to our capacity to connect fully to the world around us.  Our willingness to re-write that destructive trajectory into a story of mutual healing.

For sit spot inspiration, see a poem Allison wrote in devotion to her own sit spot located on the beautiful McDonald Farm property, “Sit Spot.”

Do you have a sit spot?  Please write us or share with us on social media, your experience.  Contact us to arrange your personal guided forest bathing and sit spot experience!


Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), in gratitude for her community and earth. 

The Secret Life of Fungi: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility


Originally posted by Chelsea Green on April 18, 2018. Reposted with permission.

Did you know that our collective future could well pivot on people coming to understand that soil fungi matter? Or that there’s such a thing as fungal consciousness?

Mycorrhizal-Planet-Michael-Phillips-Chelsea-GreenFungi have intricate lives, behaviors, and uses most people are unaware of. Mychorrizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with the root systems of other plants. The crucial, symbiotic role that fungi play in everything from healthy plants to healthy soils to a healthy planet.

Beyond farmers and gardeners, Mycorrhizal Planet will resonate with anyone who is fascinated with the unseen workings of nature and concerned about maintaining and restoring the health of our soils, our climate, and the quality of life on Earth for generations to come.

The following is an excerpt from Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility that has been adapted for the web.

Read more…

Fermentation Fest Featuring Local Brewers & Baker!

We’re hosting a Fermentation Fest on August 26th

Come and taste innovative locally crafted fermented brews, savor fermented appetizers, listen to live music, bid on silent auction items, and have fun!


Local brewers are busy fermenting brews like mead, gruit, tepache, sodas, kombucha, and ale for you to enjoy. Plus most of the food will be fermented too! Enjoy your brews while you bid on awesome silent auction items and jam to some live music. Our very own, Ellyn Schmitz, Bioregional Herbalism instructor, will be giving a brief fermentation presentation with samples to try.

Read more…

Respecting Intuition while Getting Over the Fear of Eating Wild!

Ductifera pululahuana

I know the feeling...the exciting one you get when walking through the woods and someone says, "Hey, you can eat this!"  I also know the feeling of looking at Ductifera pululahuana on a log and thinking...say whaaaa? I'm supposed to eat this? Then if we're adventurous enough to take some home to try, it sits... and it sits, because we don't know how to use and enjoy it. I know the feeling.

I also know the feeling of finding different sources that say plant "x" is edible while others say it's not. Ductifera pululahuana is not considered a "choice" mushroom like morels. Some sources even claim it is inedible. I was lucky to have found these with my Chinese and Lithuanian friends and after some extensive research into the fungus, proper ID and cross reference between the three of us...I boiled it, made a sweet soup and ate it. It was delicious, and different to my palate. While it was new for me, this mushroom is commonly used in Chinese soups and is also noted to be supportive to female health. Knowing this history gave me more confidence to eat it traditionally sweet rather than savory. It has the taste of rain + minerals mixed with a delicious sweetness from the broth.

After this mushroom experience I realized that there is a process of trusting, intuitively saying yes, and building a relationship with a plant or fungus. With time and practice you will become more and more familiar with perennial wild plants so that you too can confidently prepare and enjoy these plants, fungi, and mosses. 

Today, I'm sharing my triple check when foraging for wild edibles. Much like the three object/composition rule in visual art, we're going to use three checks when building a relationship with perennial wild edibles. 


Creamy Chickweed Pesto with Sweet Potato Fries


As the days are getting hotter and hotter here in Chicago my body is craving lighter meals packed with nutrition. Spring –Fall are busy times for me, so I want to be sure have quick simple meals that fill me. For this I have been making a Creamy Chickweed Pesto (GF/V) made with cashews, chickweed, a pinch of salt, and garlic all blended up. Easy, simple, beautiful and oh so good!

Read more…