Nature Heals You — 10 Ways to Enjoy it

Growing up in Manhattan in New York City I realized the power of getting outside with nature. Central Park, Carl Schurz Park (where Gracie Mansion is and the Mayor of NYC usually resides) and even the garden on the roof of my 5 story walk up apartment building were my getaways. After visiting any of those places I would feel revitalized. Now living in upstate, NY nature is all around me and I am very grateful I need to just look out my window to be amazed by the beautiful mountains and trees. I never quite knew WHY I felt better after visiting these places but as I have learned the last 18 months — nature is one of the easiest places to feel at peace, be still and connect with the world as a whole. Even if you are ill there are ways to connect with nature that will enliven you. Nature can heal and relax you in so many ways — here are 10 of my favorite ways to connect with nature.

1) Walking
Whether alone or walking a dog, walking is great for you and gives you time to be quiet and let your mind wander. I have written about walking and what it means to me previously. Growing up a city girl I loved to walk and it was typical to walk several miles in one day without even thinking about it. Now that I am in a suburban/rural area I have to become more conscious that I am getting my walking in. I am lucky enough to live by a park that I can walk to and use for long walks either in the woods or in the big open fields. If you are ill, walking may seem difficult but even a short walk down your block/road or driveway and back will get your heart pumping and will let you experience different scenery. I was fortunate when I was ill that I did have to get out every day to take my kids to school, do errands, etc. even though many days I just wanted to stay in bed. I know when you are in chronic pain and ill — the house can seem like a prison. Getting out and breathing fresh air is healing and will change your mood and inspire you. Walking can be very meditative when you are alone if you are able to stay in the moment and just take in your surroundings. I also greatly enjoy walks with friends or my family as a way to connect with them.

2) Exercise

There are so many wonderful exercises to do outside. Take advantage of the nice weather and explore an activity or sport you have been interested in. I took up cross country skiing when I knew I would be living in a climate that is cold 6 months out of the year. My son takes tennis lessons (free via our wonderful recreation center) in the summer. We have a pool that we are in quite often. My husband was a spring board diver through high school and college and coached diving afterwards. Get a friend interested in doing something with you — jog, shoot basketball hoops at a local park — anything but get out and work up a sweat in the great outdoors! Even throwing a Frisbee will get your heart rate up and bring a smile to your face.

3) Gardening

I was brought up in NYC where I had the least green thumb of anyone I knew. If a plant or flowers were brought into my apartment — I felt it was being given a death sentence. Now, understanding my self talk better — I realize a lot of that came from me saying to myself “I can’t grow anything”. When you state something repeatedly and believe it — it usually will come true! When we moved upstate I told myself I would learn how to garden. While I am no Martha Stewart I am quite happy to say my perennial garden is very substantial and I am grateful I even know what a perennial garden is! I am learning more every year about growing vegetables and herbs and it is my hope this year to go to my garden when I need a salad for all the ingredients. When my hands are in the dirt during gardening I feel transported and very relaxed. Not to mention it can be a heck of a workout — pulling weeds, digging holes, pushing a wheelbarrow around, squatting, raking and watering can all make those muscles burn. If you live in a city you can maintain plants and herbs in your house or volunteer to help out at a community garden. YES – I GREW these sunflowers — I would have never thought it possible! 😉

4) Sit Under a Tree, in the Grass or near flowers and JUST BE

It is meditative to just sit and be with nature. Included in the incredible webinar course offered by Oprah and Eckhart Tolle on his book “A New Earth” are worksheets that accompany every chapter’s lessons. I would like to include an activity from the worksheet for Chapter One for you to try.

“Spend some time in the presence of something you consider beautiful—a flower, a gem, a piece of artwork, etc. As you look at the object, try to see it without naming it mentally. When we appreciate beauty in this manner, a window opens into the formless, and into a state of gratitude. See if you can experience that and write about your experiences.”

5) Read or Listen to Music Outside

When I ran my desktop publishing business in NYC I was lucky enough to set my own hours. I would wake up at 6AM and work until 11AM. I would then walk to Central Park (5 blocks from my apt.) and relax from 11:15-1:15 and then return home refreshed to put in a another few hours of work. Sometimes I would people watch but mostly I would read, listen to my discman (no IPODs then) and rejuvenate myself. I would let go of the work I had done and not think about the work I was going back to. I continue to enjoy occasional walks with my IPOD and reading outside on my back deck where I can feel the sun on my face and listen to the birds in the background.

6) Be Near or in Water

Whether it is swimming, kayaking (my favorite), canoing or just sitting on a beach or by a lake … water has a soothing aspect to it. I mentioned Carl Schurz Park before and one of the reasons it was my favorite park was it was by the East River. No, not the prettiest of rivers but it was calming to sit on a bench and look out at the water and think or just take myself out of the hustle and bustle that accompanies living in NYC. It was the closest getaway from my house and I spent many teenage angst years there contemplating life. When I had my first official date with my husband I took him there and it changed the way he looked at NYC. He subsequently proposed to me by the East River which was the best place he could have picked!

7) Picnic

For years my husband and I celebrated “date night”. Each week we would get out of the house and go out to eat, go meet up with friends or go for a walk. My fondest memories are just packing some sandwiches and some water and having a picnic dinner somewhere. My kids absolutely LOVE picnics and willingly will pack lots of food and snacks in a backpack to bring to a park to sit and eat. Something about eating outside on a picnic blanket makes us smile. Treat yourself if you don’t want to pack up the whole family… pack a few healthy snacks and some water and a blanket or one of the wonderful, reusable Neat Sheets and be outside and enjoy your next meal.

8) Meet Up with a Friend(s)

Just sitting outside and noticing the world around you with a friend or friends brings new topics to mind and gives you a new kind of energy than just sitting in the house. Agree to meet up with a friend at a local park or if you have a backyard meet up there to relax together. In the summer time we entertain a lot and whether it is by the pool, by the fire or just sitting around in some chairs — it is always a lot of fun and being outside brings a new dimension to “hanging out”. My good friend Angela at my local park — she is my most frequent walking buddy and we have shared many great talks walking at this park.

9) Go to a Playground and Swing on the Swings

Yes you might have to go after hours to ensure not getting the children too upset. 😉 But swinging on a swing can be freeing and fun. The pumping of your legs as the movement takes you higher is liberating and I can never imagine being sad while swinging in a swing.

10) Go to an Open Field or Top of a Tall Building

The park near my house was an airplane field so when I am in it I can look up and see mountains all around me and realize just how small I am in the scheme of things. The same is true when you go to a tall building and look down and all the people, vehicles and other smaller buildings. You can accomplish the same thing by looking up at the stars at night. When you realize just how vast this Universe is, even your “biggest problem” can shrink down to miniature status.

These are ten of my favorite ways to enjoy nature. Being outside (even if you are ill) has healing qualities, the sun’s Vitamin D and the feel of fresh air in your lungs…. Being with nature has helped some of my “grandest dilemmas” shrink away to nothing. Try some of these outdoor activities and feel, enjoy and be grateful for nature’s soothing and healing qualities.

Jill Bolte Taylor — Stroke of Insight — A Brain Researcher who had a stroke and studied it as it happened — A Must see TED talk

When Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist (brain researcher) realized she was having a stroke she decided to study the experience. Her talk at the TED conference brings to light the difference between the right and left brain hemispheres and also has surprising correlations with consciousness and ego. She watched and was aware as her ability to talk, decipher speech, use her limbs and recognize things disappeared and experienced what happened when the right side of her brain took over. Her story is a miraculous one and is very in line with a lot of the studies I have been doing the last 18 months on consciousness and being. Please watch the following video — I assure you that you have never heard anything similar and it will stay with you.

Dr. Taylor decided she wanted to study the brain because of her brother who suffers from schizophrenia. She worked in the Harvard Department of Psychiatry and was a also an advocate for NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness). She wanted to know and understand the biological differences between the brains of those who are “normal” as opposed to those diagnosed with schizophrenia and similar illnesses. She was also studying how the cells and the 2 hemispheres of the brain communicated. Through her stroke she was able to experience this first hand.

LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN/
EGO VS. CONSCIOUSNESS

Her hemorrhage was in the left side of her brain which controls linear and methodical thinking. The left side of your brain uses your past experiences to categorize, it picks out details of your experiences and makes associations and also projects thoughts about the future. The left side will also send you messages as “remember to go shopping” and is your constant mind chatter and self talk. The left side is essentially what Eckhart Tolle calls “the ego” and always makes sure that you know you are “separate from others”.

The right side of your brain is about now, or as Eckhart Tolle calls it “consciousness”. The right side of your brain thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. It is our senses but is NOT our language and our labels on everything. It is silent and is energy and it is what connects us to everyone else.

You have to watch the video and listen to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s explanation of all she went through to save herself during her stroke. All the realizations she came across and all the distinctions she was able to make. Her profession as a brain researcher allowed her to recognize what was happening each step of the way. It took her 8 years to fully recover from her stroke and now she is spreading her message which is a very important one.

Eckhart Tolle in “A New Earth” talks about the importance of being in the now and quieting the mind chatter. When Jill suffered her stroke her mind chatter was suddenly silenced for her. In “A New Earth” Mr. Tolle talks about trying to observe things but not label them rather just experience them and feel their energy. Jill Taylor lost all perception of where her body ended and the world around her began — she was one with the other energy around her. When you listen to Eckhart Tolle speak you can sense his peacefulness and how present he is. When Dr. Taylor’s left brain hemorrhaged she was thrust into the silence and beauty of being present only through how the right brain perceives the world.

During Dr. Taylor’s eight years of recovery she needed to relearn how to read, walk, talk and write again. She goes into her recovery in detail in her book, “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey“. What stayed with Dr. Taylor was the experience and the importance of the right brain to us all. She points out that we are two very different entities just as Mr. Tolle does. Mr. Tolle talks about the ego and consciousness and she describes it as your left and right brain functions. By reading “A New Earth” and other readings and practicing the methods within you can begin to experience moments where your right brain is in control or “consciousness”. I have experienced moments of this and boy is it beautiful. Dr. Taylor ends her speech by acknowledging we can all decide which side of the brain we want to live out of — the left which is how our ego identifies, labels and separates us or our right which is peace, consciousness, being aware of our senses in the now and our connection with everyone.

By taking the Oprah and Tolle FREE Webinar — you learn about this and about awakening as they take you chapter by chapter through “A New Earth”. The course only has 2 weeks left but they leave all the lessons on the Oprah site for free or you can download them right to your IPOD. I highly recommend listening to this course however you can and joining the millions world wide who have already done so.

Jill Taylor made this amazing talk at the TED conference this year. If you have not visited the TED site or signed up I highly recommend doing so. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and gathers the top people in these areas to one conference to talk about “An Idea worth Spreading” and they each have 20 minutes to do so. I have seen some of the best speeches in my life by watching talks in the TED library. It is free to sign up and if you like inspirational or thought provoking videos — be warned — you might spend hours mesmerized and unable to leave this incredible site!

I am actively coaching although I have limited time slots available. You can contact me for a free 1/2 hour consultation. I am always available for comments, questions and suggestions either right here or by emailing me at jenny@jennymannion.com. Please share this video with others.

5 Steps for Embracing Change

If you read my last post, “An Interview, Superwoman and Life Changes” you know that my life will be going through some major changes in the next 6 months. (Hence my only posting once a week now on Thursdays until September). While my immediate reaction to my husband living 5 hours away all week was not the most happy (understatement of the year) 😉 — within 2 days of processing I was able to heal and let go go of all of the negative “what ifs” and embrace the positives of the situation. I have to admit it is very convenient that I am constantly learning about consciousness, healing and challenges in life. When something comes up in my own life it seems I attract all the resources in which to learn. I will start with a post by a good friend Camille Strate on “The Art of Change“, talk about my own experiences this last week and give my 5 steps for Embracing Change. Whether it be moving, divorce, job change, health or any other change that comes up that might have your gut reaction saying “oh no” there are ways to not only cope but embrace change and look forward to the journey and life lessons it will bring.

Firstly the lovely Camille’s article on “The Art of Change”

Why in the world do we resist change so hard? Why is it that the moment we’re faced with change we get so pessimistic? Why do we think that change will always equal disaster? It’s such an odd thing to me that we do this (and believe me, I’m just as guilty sometimes!). When faced with any kind of change, whether it be a new landlord or a new job or the first wrinkle on your face, we go into a tizzy and start hyper-ventilating like we’re about to be strung up on a rack. It’s so….silly?

I got to thinking about this the other day when I was told that the property I rent is on the market. Apparently, the current owners have decided they’d rather take a loss than hold on to their many properties, in lieu of some other new adventure. My breathing immediately became shallow. I could feel the sweat on my hands and that icky tickle in my belly. OH NO! WHAT NOW? My first and instant response was that this could NOT be good. Why? Why did I immediately go there? Why did I automatically assume that a new land owner would make my life difficult? How could I know this? Why didn’t I, instead, think to myself, “well, this could be a grand adventure. This could be just what the doctor ordered. This could be terrific!” Nope. Went in the opposite direction of those thoughts and I did it in a blink. SHEESH!

After I regained my balance, I got to thinking about the way I USED TO look at change. When I was a kid and I found out something new was about to happen, I’d get all excited. I would have a million ‘super-cool’ possibilities run through my little head, like I’d just found a magic lamp and the genie was about to pop out and grant wishes. I was the most optimistic little Being you’d ever meet. So what happened? How did I go from that creature to this one? How did I lose that optimistic perception of the world? When did I decide that change meant ‘BAD’?

As I sat and pondered these things, it suddenly occurred to me that these thoughts of doom and gloom were a result of old tapes being played by someone else. Fact is, my whole life has been pretty charmed and no matter what kind of changes I’ve ever faced, I have ALWAYS ended up in a better place. Whether it meant moving to a new home or a new city or a new boyfriend (LOL!), it was always BETTER than before the change occurred. So where did this come from? Perhaps there’s some residual contamination from those around me who ARE the kind of people who think change is death. Or maybe it’s just some weird thing that happens after a certain age. Once we are faced with our own mortality, do we automatically see all change as a sign that death is moving closer? If this is the case, why are we so afraid of death? We all know that sooner or later we’re going to leave these shells we call bodies and move on to some other realm of Being. So what’s all the fuss about?

I have decided that I’m going to adopt the perspective of a 10 year old. I’m going to look at any change that’s offered as a means to an adventure. I’m going to look at the possibilities as opportunities for growth and expansion. I’m going to embrace change, regardless of the form it takes. I’m going to live like all that could ever come to me is GOOD. Because the moment I bring my thoughts to this place, every single thing in my world looks like a brand new gift. It’s all wrapped in pretty paper with a bow on top, and I have no idea what’s inside. But you can bet I’m excited about seeing what it is! Perhaps if we all embraced change this way, we’d have fewer people on Xanax and more people living in enthusiastic anticipation. Perhaps, regardless of our ‘age’ or station, we could finally say YES to Life. After all, the only moment we ever have is this one. Why not make the most of it?

MY EXPERIENCE WITH CHANGE

Camille’s words and story are close to my heart because I had a similar reaction 2 weeks ago when Ray and I decided it was the smartest decision for our family for him to take the job 5 hours away. My mind said, “What, you mean I am going to have even LESS time than I already have?” “But he is my best friend and we’re so close and we barely get time together as it is — I will only see him 2 days a week?” “I will be a single mom 5 days a week and have to cut back on work?” “How will this affect our relationship?” “My children will miss their daddy”. My “Pain body” (see “Thoughts Affect Your Body” for a description of Tolle’s “pain body”) was in full control as was my ego and my level head and consciousness just showed itself in glimpses. The good thing was I KNEW it would get better and that anything I face now is temporary, life “is as it should be” and I needed time and quiet to process my emotions for peace to shine through.

Tolle in “A New Earth” talks about the phrase “This too, shall pass”. Tolle states, “These words have a deeper purpose: to make you aware of the fleetingness of every situation, which is due to the transience of all forms — good or bad.” “When you become aware of the transience of all forms, your attachment to them lessens, and you dis-identify from them to some extent.” He later says…”Once you see and accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, you can enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last without the fear of loss or anxiety about the future.” Mr. Tolle also gave a perfect analogy on the webinar he and Oprah are doing together this past Monday. He compared life to a tapestry (Just like Carol King does here) and change is a rip in that tapestry. You can either concentrate on that rip and feel like part of you is gone or you can look for the light that shines through the hole. I have talked a lot about “A New Earth” and the webinar and it seems like every week this book helps me in new ways. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The last 2 weeks I have gone through many stages and I now am excited about what the next months will hold. I will be spending even more time with my children. It used to be when Ray got home at 7PM I was out the door for a walk by myself or with a friend… Now I will have to mix it up and figure out another time for me to walk, exercise and get alone and friend time. This job will bring HUGE financial relief which of course is wonderful. By only posting once a week on this blog and not hanging out with Ray at night, I will be able to put more attention into my invention being manufactured in a timely manner and on mediation and education. Yes, there will be adjustments and I am not saying it will be a cake walk (this post had me looking that term up on Wikipedia). I know I will have to “mix up my old routines a bit”, my relationship with Ray will enter a new stage of growth, I will have an awesome summer with my kids by our pool and taking them to the various lessons they take at the neighborhood parks and it will allow for me to spend more time by myself at night to pursue reading, meditation and to learn more about myself. I look forward and embrace the life lessons that lie ahead.

5 STEPS FOR EMBRACING CHANGE


1) Expect a Gut Reaction and Emotions

It is most people’s natural reaction to resist change. Expect some emotions – do not criticize yourself for whatever your immediate reaction is. Whether it is feeling angry, sad, crying laughing, negativity… recognize these feelings for what they are – JUST the beginning of the change. Change even if it is a “good” means your old way of being is no longer – allow yourself time to process this and pay attention to the emotions it brings out in you. You can learn from this experience of being aware of your emotions.

2) Give Yourself Time to Adjust

Know that change takes time to adjust to. Don’t say “NO – it can’t change” – that just won’t get you anywhere… accept it and try and be flexible and go with it. Reasons for the change and the circumstances will play out in time… give it time to work itself out and do not feel you have to accept everything overnight. Remember that “this too shall pass” and the life lessons will be displayed in time.

3) Give What is Staying the Same Attention as Well

If the change is big — then keep up some familiar things. Remind yourself there may be one or two aspects of your life that are changing but not EVERYTHING will change. Give gratitude for what is constant and what you love…. Reassure yourself that not everything will change just because some things have. I know this change still has me staying in our home (which I love and consider my dream home), I still have my close friends and mother that will offer me support if I really need it….. embracing these constants somehow makes it easier to deal with what is changing.

4) Get Support

Do not try to bottle up your feelings to yourself. Seek support from friends, family or loved ones – talk it out – laugh, get a hug, a calm ear and perspective and some reassurance. I am not one who usually asks for help but I know if not for my close friends (thank you so much Mom, Angela, Julie and Camille) — this adjustment would be MUCH harder to get through.

5) Find the Good in it and Embrace It

Some changes are harder to find good in – illness, death, or financial loss and others can feel like the end of the world. Sometimes you have to look very hard to find the blessing in such changes, but there always is one. Every change brings with it life lessons and allows us to grow wiser and stronger and learn to make better decisions. Change gives you a new set of circumstances and puts you further along your life path.

I am very grateful to be entering this new chapter in my life and for the opportunity being offered to Ray. I am thankful for the support system I have and for my children being old enough to understand they will still be seeing daddy on the weekends and that this is temporary. I am ecstatic that I get to keep on blogging (even though it will be less) and that in September when Christina starts school I will be able to have more time than I have had in the last 9 years! I am appreciative that I get to spend my last full time at-home mom time concentrating on my wonderful children and showing them just how important they are to me. I am thankful that Ray will come home every weekend and that time with him will seem even more precious. Thank you everyone for the supportive emails I have received — they mean more than I could ever say.


I am enjoying coaching and have seen such good results with my clients. I look forward to unveiling all the testimonials in the fall with the launch of jennymannion.com. I am available for the free 1/2 hour consultation and as always I recommend reading my ebook and doing the worksheets if you have some healing you feel needs to be addressed (whether it be emotional of physical). I am always reachable at jenny@jennymannion.com.


Thank you Camille for the use of your post…. here is the information on how to reach Camille: Camille Olivia Strate is an author and coach who takes great pleasure in helping folks ‘remember’ who they are. Camille has many other wonderful articles. Her latest book, “Whispers” is now available in eBook format. Visit her personal site at www.joyzachoice.com