An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

Archive for the ‘Stress management’ Category

Into the Wild: A Wise Woman Herbal Gathering

On top of the beautiful Lookout Mountain in Northwest Georgia, we will be gathering for a wonderful herbal experience this September. I will be teaching a class on Herbs for Stress and leading a Forest Bathing experience to calm our nerves and enliven our senses. I’m excited that herbalists Ila Hatter and Lauren Haynes will be leading herb walks and teaching medicine making. You won’t want to miss this herbal gathering for women.

For more information and to register click here for the Into the Wild Herbal Gathering.

 

Forest Bathing–A Mindful Experience with Nature, June 10, 10:30-12:30

In partnership with Crabtree Farms of Chattanooga, TN, I will be leading a Forest Bathing experience. Contact (in advance) Crabtree to register.

Forest Bathing, also called Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept of immersing oneself in the rich sensory experience of the forest with open awareness and no expectations. The body and mind “bathes” in the smells, sounds, light, movement, taste and feel of the forest.

Through mindful experiences such as Forest Bathing, we can be present with the body and senses, simply resting in natural awareness, grounded. We will practice skills in how to work with difficult thoughts and feelings to reduce stress and anxiety.

Research in Japan is providing evidence of what nature-lovers have intuitively known for years: that reconnecting to the forest will heal us. Studies show, specifically, that intentional forest walking elevates the mood, reduces stress hormones such as cortisol, boosts the immune system, and reduces the heart rate.

Experience it for yourself.

Location:  Guild-Hardy Trail at Lookout Mountain Conservancy.  (The trail is located at the northern end of Lookout Mountain within the Chattanooga city limits.  Park in the far west end (gravel) lot at Ruby Falls where we will meet to start our walk.)

Why Wilderness?

Tellico Wild reconnects people with the wilderness.   http://wildsidetv.com/video/tellico-wild/

In August 2015, Tennessee’s Wildside adventured into the Tennessee Citico Wilderness to film naturalists and people seeking a day of reconnecting with their wild side. Bill and Laura Hodge organized the event, sponsored by Wild South and SAWS. I was honored to have Tennessee Wildside come along to film the edible and medicinal plant hike I led to Fall Branch Falls. This is one of my favorite areas in East Tennessee’s Wilderness region. Medicinal plants abound right at the trailhead and throughout the entire hike. In August, it is a cool, moist day in the 70s, a refuge in the southern heat.

It’s winter now as I post this, but at the end of February, the earliest of spring ephemeral wildflowers will soon emerge. Once the days start getting longer after the winter solstice, I’m already dreaming of spring wildflowers. I post this now to remind us of the beauty to come, and urge people to get out and enjoy our precious wilderness areas in 2017. I’ll be leading some edible and medicinal hikes this year. Stay tuned!

And PLEASE! contact TN Congressman Chuck Fleischmann to tell him to sign the Tennessee Wilderness Act. It takes an act of congress to protect Wilderness forever, which is a forever “thank you” to those who made it happen. Wilderness is where you can lose your urban worries, and find the wild heartbeat in your soul. Don’t you think we need that right now?

To watch the 5 minute video on Tellico Wild, including some of my hike, click this link:

http://wildsidetv.com/video/tellico-wild/

I hope you make it out into the wilderness this year. You can be transformed in just one hike.

 

Herbal Help for Mood Disorders: Radio program 12/11 on Highway to Health

Sorrowing old man ("At Eternity's Gate") by Vincent van Gogh

Sorrowing old man (“At Eternity’s Gate”) by Vincent van Gogh

I’m on West Virginia radio tomorrow for the Highway to Health show with Dave Hawkins, 9:15am. It’ll be available at http://www.motherearthworks.com/ immediately after the show.

Herbal Help for Mood Disorders
Therapeutic herbs are used worldwide to relieve anxiety, depression and a host of other mood disorders. Healthy Dave is joined by registered herbalist and psychotherapist Holli Richey to discuss a natural approach to therapy using herbs, psychotherapy and stress management practices designed to help the whole person – body, mind and spirit.

Please call in to (304) 422-3154 at 9:15 AM EST.

Forest Bathing Retreat: toe first then full immersion June 21-22

Forest bathing is a practice of being present, opening our senses to receive all of the forest. It isn't about taking your clothes off to literally bathe. It's a figurative use of the word, as in to fully bask in the atmosphere. This trail is through the forest at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.

Forest bathing is a practice of being present, opening our senses to receive all of the forest. It isn’t about taking your clothes off to literally bathe. It’s a figurative use of the word, as in to fully bask in the atmosphere. This trail is through the forest at Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.  – John Burroughs

Friday, 6pm-8:30pm; Saturday, 7:30am-11:30am *

(6am-7:15am optional start for sitting in meditation at the pavilion.)

Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center (Reflection Riding)

Forest Bathing is a Japanese concept of immersing oneself in the sensory experience of the forest with open awareness and no expectations. Studies in Japan have proven that opening one’s senses to the forest will reduce stress hormones such as cortisol, boost the immune system, and reduce the heart rate.

Join Yong Oh, mindfulness teacher, Dr. Jean Lomino, director of CANC and outdoor educator, and Holli Richey, therapist and herbalist, for this Solstice retreat into the woods where we will experience the life-changing practice of mindfulness in nature. Experience how to be present with the body and senses, and learn how to work with difficult thoughts and feelings which generate greater stress and anxiety. Experience what it is to rest in natural awareness. This is the first of more Mindfulness in Nature retreats to come. Toe first, then full immersion.

Register with Chattanooga Arboretum by Monday, June 17th.  Donation, $25 suggested.

*This is not an overnight retreat.

forestbathing3

A rare spring beauty of Southern Appalachia

Oconee bell (Shortia galacifolia)

Oconee bell (Shortia galacifolia)

Beauty is a word for the ineffable. It is a word to describe vast feelings that arise within us when we’re in a meaningful relationship with an experience. Birth and death can be beautiful. A bright moon, a child’s laughter, a shared meal, so much in our day can be beautiful when we’re present to it. When we call something beautiful, we are stating that we are aware of being called to a higher place as a witness in this life.

A flower called me to this highest of places. Though it is not a striking flower, something about its rarity, its subtlety, its survival in adversity gives this Southern Appalachian flower the beauty of empowered presence.

The Oconee bell (Shortia galacifolia), or in Gillian Welch’s song Acony Bell, grows in the mountains near the wild and scenic Chattooga River. It can be found in Oconee County, South Carolina, where it gets its name, and also near Highlands, NC, northeast GA, east TN and western VA.

When I saw this plant bloom for the first time on a sunny day in March, I got down on my knees and knelt with it. Another life was here before me. It was a life I wanted to know more deeply. Time passed, yet it didn’t. I continue to call upon the Oconee Bell in my mind’s eye when I need to be reminded of the message of its life and existence.

This flower led me to my favorite Gillian Welch song describing the beauty of its life. This time of year I find myself humming this tune. Hopefully I’ll learn to play it on my hammered dulcimer one day.

The fairest bloom the mountain knows
Is not an iris or a wild rose
But the little flower of which I’ll tell
Known as the brave Acony Bell

Just a simple flower so small and plain
With a pearly hue and a little known name
But the yellow birds sing when they see it bloom
For they know that spring is coming soon

Well it makes its home mid the rocks and the rills
Where the snow lies deep on the windy hills
And it tells the world “Why should I wait
This ice and snow is gonna melt away”

And so I’ll sing that yellow bird’s song
For the troubled times will soon be gone

Always we begin again

Morning glories are like New Year's fireworks.

New Years marks a time to begin again, to start anew in the practice to be the best version of ourselves. Rather than making a resolution, which is rigid and guilt-provoking, make a goal as an intention of creating transformation through a practice of self-reflection.

Incorporating a practice of mindfulness meditation, contemplative prayer, journaling, or walking builds a perspective of our life that allows us to observe tendencies to revert to earlier habits of behavior and mind. When we have a practice of reflection, we develop an attention to how our whole mind-body-spirit responds to life. We notice the craving-causing triggers that elicit strong emotions. Developing the inner observer, or mindsight, creates the foundation for consciously choosing thoughts and behaviors that make a goal a reality.

When we’re at the edge of our comfort level, cultivating awareness of impulsive or rigid patterns of thoughts and behaviors in order to choose a new way of being, we’re in beginner’s mind. What’s great about being in the powerful space of beginner’s mind is that it is safe and forgiving, mistakes are allowed and practice is encouraged. No one expects a T-ball player to bat like he’s a pro. If, however, the T-ball player chooses never to attempt to swing at a pitched ball, he’ll remain at the level of his comfort, and never be a pro. That’s fine if that’s what he wants, but if he wants to see what else he is capable of, then he will need to become a beginner again as he swings at thrown pitches. As the saying goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always have what you’ve always had.” A courage-building spin is, “To have what you’ve never had before, you’ve got to do what you’ve never done before.” We can courageously choose change with a beginner’s mind.

At the brain level of beginner’s mind we are forming new neuronal pathways, and by not doing what we are patterned to do, we are pruning existing neurons. Our habits are well-worn pathways of firing neurons. In neurobiology, there’s a saying, “Things that fire together, wire together.” If we eat when we’re upset, then we will, by neuron association, crave food when we’re upset. When we have an awareness of the upset when it happens, we can expand the space between the trigger and the programmed reaction, allowing us to observe the phenomenon and have more time to choose a response in alignment with our goal. In the process, we are literally changing the structure and function of the brain cells in our head. With practice, the new neurons become well-worn pathways, and a new habit of mind is developed.

The common phenomenon of starting a diet on January 2nd and forgetting it by January 3rd happens because the weight goal lacks a grounding foundation in conscious intention. Centering the weight-loss goal in the context of a process of personal growth with a reflection practice, called intentional eating or mindful eating, rather than mindless eating, is a more sustainable diet program.

Why can’t we just finally fix ourselves for good? Why does change have to be so hard? Change is a process which adjusts to life situations. If we were fixed, we’d lose the ability to adapt. So, when you feel balanced one moment and later feel off track, remember your reflection practice, and that we can always begin again.

Wishing you the highest & best for 2012!

Holli

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