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!

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Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), in gratitude for her community and earth. http://wildwomaninthesuburbs.com/ 

Awakening the Forager

Wild Plant IDSince I began learning about edible wild plants and herbs three years ago, it has been a joy to walk around and “see” all of the food and herbs growing everywhere, in cracks in the sidewalks, in yards, along trails, in forests. At first, most of my knowledge was applied to designing edible landscapes, but now I’m fully enjoying feeding myself from my yard and community. I take walks every day to notice the abundance around me, harvest where appropriate, process, and enjoy. Just this week, I have been enjoying a variety of teas (peppermint, pine needle, lemon balm, dandelion root, and comfrey leaf), stinging nettle infusions, “weed” pesto that I froze this fall, hazelnuts, and grape juice canned this summer. Each year, my “wild” plant diet expands, and with it a deepening connection and appreciation of the natural world.

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