Slowing down

When I am simultaneously burning with fury and drowning with grief for our nation and world, I know that it’s time to get myself out of doors and to pray in the native language of my heart.

At my sit spot this morning, I bathed in scented breezes and birdsong, rested my feet on a lush pillow of green grass, and felt steadied by my wise elders, the oaks.

We, the sensitives, empaths, and feelers, we, the artists, teachers, and healers are here to restore balance and bring healing in this time of collapse, but our efforts cannot succeed so long as we are in the same tattered condition as our surroundings.

The challenge of my life, and perhaps yours as well, is to practice slowing down in the midst of an ongoing emergency.

Last week, I guided a forest therapy walk for two dear friends. Though I intended to spend 30 minutes connecting with the land before guiding the walk, I ran out of time. Of the forest therapy walks I have guided over the past 5 months, not once have I managed to connect to the land immediately beforehand.

Fortunately, Spirit stepped in as my scheduler.

Just 15 minutes before the walk was to begin, I received a text. One of my friends had somehow managed to lock not one, but two, sets of keys inside the car, delaying the walk. 

Once I was out there, with nothing in particular to do, I got busy connecting with the land. I sat for a time, wandered for a while, made tobacco offerings, and asked the more-than-human world for its support for the walk.

It worked. A breeze picked up exactly when it was needed, a hawk joined its voice to ours as we shared in circle, and the sweet scent of dried pine needles softened the sadness I felt in saying goodbye to my friend who was leaving Oregon.

Even though I know the value of deep time in nature, and have made it my business to guide forest therapy experiences for others—even then—it has been mighty difficult for me to find time to slow down.

The healing elements of our world are here to meet us, always and everywhere, if only we make the time to slow down and notice.

A supportive community can help us do just that.


Two upcoming opportunities for spiritual community from Gaia Shamanism:

Free weekly online journey circle Wednesday, June 1, from 4-6 pm PDT

We are resuming our free online journey circle this week!

This circle is an opportunity to hone the practice of journeywork in a  spiritual container of mutual support, real talk, and humor.

You are invited to slow down in the moments leading up to our circle and reflect upon what feels most alive in your heart for a journey this week.

Feel free to email me at anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com for this week’s zoom invitation.  All skill levels are welcome.

Online forest therapy walk Sunday, June 26 at 10 am-1 pm

You are invited to join us for Gaia Shamanism’s first virtual forest therapy walk!

Why forest therapy? Forest therapy, inspired by the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, is a Western practice that offers us the opportunity to restore a sense of relationship and reciprocity with the more-than-human world.

The practice of forest therapy helps us to slow down and become present in creative and surprising ways so that we might be restored by the nurturing elements of the world.

Shamanism rests upon a bedrock of animism, the understanding that every being in our midst, deer, stone, river, virus, and fir tree alike, is alive, ensouled, and deserving of respect.

All of these beings are kin; without tending our relationships with our relations in the more-than-human world–hawk-tree-snake-nettle-honeybee, alike–we have a tendency to feel anxious, alone, or lost.

With the practice of forest therapy, slowing down to experience deep time with the more-than-human world helps us to re-member and come home to our extended family of earthly beings, one other, and ourselves.

How does a virtual forest therapy walk work? You’ll log into zoom from your backyard, park, nature preserve, or even from inside your home, with your cell phone or computer.

I’ll guide y’all with a series of invitations to help us connect to the more-than-human world in our respective locations. 

Over the course of the three-hour forest therapy walk, we will experience deep time on the land, reflect on our experience in a sharing circle, and close with a simple tea ceremony.

Because we are an international community representing a variety of lands and ecosystems, our sharing should prove especially rich.

As a thank you to the Gaia Shamanism community for your friendship and support through the process of my becoming an ANFT-certified forest therapy guide, I am offering this walk at a discounted suggested donation of $20.

To RSVP, please click this link:… You can pay more, or less, depending upon your budget.

I look forward to slowing down with you on Sunday, June 26th!

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