by Leslie Clemensen

In Thailand, the words for truth and nature are synonyms. As we bounce from one media alert to the next during this COVID 19 pandemic, we are all seeking truth…true information and deep truths about what this means for us as individuals, families, communities and nations – where can we find secure footing and what expectations of normal need to be released? The disequilibrium we feel is real. And so is the wisdom nature can share with us during this historic time. Seasons of great suffering open our souls to new ways of thinking and behaving…and nature is there to teach and guide us if we are mindful of Her offerings.

Mindfulness invites us to work skillfully with obstacles, thoughts and emotional patterns which may interfere with our ability to be present with ourselves and others. Mindfulness is simple, but sometimes not easy. Nature however, provides perfect backdrops for our internal and external explorations. Several key features of mindfulness – curiosity, being open to all experiences without tresistance or grasping, gratitude and quieting the mind – are highlighted in this poem by Mary Oliver: 

Participants in the Dawson Butte hike for volunteers a couple of weeks ago, got a little taste of what will be offered this summer in our Nature as Mindfulness Teacher series. During this beautiful hike,we opened up to what gave us a sense of awe. For some, it was unique cloud formations, others saw a fallen, dead tree in a new way. There were signs of spring in blooming flowers and greening plants. We paid attention…and got to know fellow volunteers. At the conclusion of the hike, we shared our observations. The community of DLC volunteers walked away with new experiences and insights though it’s a trail many have hiked before.

During the upcoming DLC Nature as Mindfulness Teacher series, participants will be invited to observe native surroundings in new ways and learn practical skills to take these insights into daily yliving. The ancient practice of mindfulness is currently embraced across many sectors of society and research bears out the benefits. Whether it’s lessening anxiety or depression, dealing with insomnia, reducing reactivity or increasing compassion, practicing mindfulness on a regular basis gives us skills to more effectively deal with the storms of life as well as deepen our joy-ful experiences.

The upcoming mindfulness series was planned long before anyone heard of COVID 19, but these opportunities will be much needed antidotes to the great tragedies and inconveniences we are currently endur-ing.

Until we are able to gather again, I invite you to balance this time of upheaval with Mary Oliver’s wise counsel – pay attention with a sense of curiosity, allow yourself times of quiet and cultivate a spirit of gratitude.

Quiet your thoughts and connect with the healing gifts of nature as DLCvolunteer, Leslie Clemensen offers five mindfulness opportunities this summer. Participants willlearn life enhancing and research-based strategies by focusing on experiences in nature. Leslie isan Audubon trained Naturalist, Life Coach and Mindfulness Teacher.