Tick Medicine

Tick Medicine

Are you willing to entertain the thought that tick bites aren't all bad? I would like to contribute some positivity to the conversation about ticks and stop all the fear mongering.

For some people, ticks are now almost synonymous with woods, nature, and the great outdoors. Have we forgotten that there are methods of prevention? I’ve read recent articles suggesting to “simply stay away from the woods.” How sad to encourage such fear!

We are not an indoor species and avoiding nature is not a solution.

We can take precautions without completely avoiding.  Dress wisely, use essential oils or other repellent, and check afterwards. Make a choice to enjoy the outdoors without anxiety and accept each experience as a way to learn something about yourself.

Whether we encounter an obstacle, an opportunity, or a tick bite, we have a choice: stay the same or learn something.

Sometimes the learning is heavy, and difficult to walk through. When our life or our body is out of balance in any direction, yoga and other philosophies suggest that the pendulum will eventually swing to that exact same opposite extreme in an effort to create balance. So a common example would be if your schedule is totally out of control and you are in a constant state of overdrive and stress and busyness, eventually, the universe will offer you an opportunity to heal. It might be a car accident, a job loss, or an illness, that gives your body a chance to shut things down for long enough to recoup and the lesson would be to (hopefully) reevaluate your priorities and slow down. Take it or leave it, and possibly re-learn the same lessons over and over again.

Learning lessons through the vehicle of the physical body is uncomfortable. But in order to actually grow, we must be brave enough to observe with objectivity. At the time, you may see the experience as negative, but had you avoided it in some way, you would not be who you are today. We will not grow on our spiritual path if we avoid life's lessons or live from a place of fear. Faith and fear are antonyms.

So what can we learn from receiving a tick bite? Lots of things, actually.

SpiritAnimals.com says, “The tick symbolizes the danger of inflating fears way out of proportion compared to risk. Like a tick, fear is also a parasite in a human life which sucks the entire life out and makes one feel empty.”

Ironic, right? Whether you end up sick or not, the very tick bite you fear so much offers a wake-up call.

Living from a place of fear affects every...single...aspect of our life.

Fear affects how deeply you allow yourself to feel. If you are afraid to feel fear itself, the act of avoiding that which scares you draws you further away from any sort of healing that might occur. Living from a place of faith doesn’t mean taking unnecessary risks; it just means choosing to fully live your life and embrace all that comes.

We must all learn how to not only accept what comes, but to be curious about it's usefulness for our spiritual journey. When we recognize every single occurrence as though it's happening FOR our spiritual development (rather than something bad happening TO us), we eventually develop profound appreciation for even things such as tick bites.

Is this an attitude you are willing to commit to? Can you help to spread THIS type of message instead of more negativity and fear? What challenges are you experiencing that might actually be your medicine? Share your thoughts with me.

How to use nature to combat stress

nature vs. stress : wholehearter

I feel like I blog a lot about stress, stress reduction and stress management. My intention is not to focus on the negative, but to simply call attention to the types of dysfunction that we can alter. Iyengar touches on why spiritual philosophies often tend to harp on the negative (grasping desires, weaknesses, faults, and imbalances). They are trying to find, examine, and eradicate the things that cause us suffering. It's so that we can understand what can go wrong, and why, and how to stop it.

Your body sends healthy or "good" stress signals when you are hungry, when you stub your big toe or when something is amiss in your body. For many people though, we also experience stress when we are in a conversation, waiting for something, or managing our to-do lists.

Stress is meant to be an informative red flag, but for many of us, it tends to be a constant subconscious state of arousal.

I like to think about the way that animals within nature live their lives. We can learn a lot from studying and observing the natural world around us. Here are a few lessons we might take from nature:

1) Animals do not exert any excess effort for survival. If an animal can function at 75% effort, they will not push any extra. As humans, we tend to over-exert and cause extra stress because we like to show off, people-please, or strive for perfection. Ultimately, this ego-driven lifestyle only causes us suffering.

2) Animals do not worry about the future. The gift of our developed mind has plagued us with habits of worrying, anticipating, excitement, and looking ahead. Although we do need to plan for the future, animals live moment to moment in the present, addressing one thing at a time.

3) Animals automatically shut off their stress signals. Observe the way that animals move and exist in their natural environment. When not in immediate danger, animals simply do not remain stressed. Our fight or flight response is meant to be useful, not habitual.

In addition to the lessons we can learn from animals, simply being within nature is therapeutic for many reasons. I was recently reading some of the diaries of Anne Frank and I loved that one of her favorite ways to de-stress was to spend time in nature.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

Sometimes, reading simple reflections like this really helps me to put my stress in perspective, so that's why I'm sharing it. If Anne Frank can cultivate peace through the beauty of nature, then it can certainly be of help to me.

Have you tried seeking out a quiet spot in nature to clear your head? It doesn't have to be a completely private and silent spot to have an effect, but you can observe any small microcosm. Whether it's sitting inside, looking at your backyard, heading to a park to sit in the woods or practicing yoga outside, natural beauty has a way of showing us it's intricate perfection and making us and our troubles feel smaller by comparison. And spring is a perfect time to try it! :)

Check out my events page for upcoming outdoor hikes and yoga practices!

How to enjoy more time in nature

We all know that nature is healing. There are more than enough articles and studies to show the physiological, mental and emotional benefits of unplugging and spending time away from technology. But do you have practical ways to actually do it? Here are a few things that have worked for me:

1) Schedule it. Number 1 tip for any type of self-care is to schedule it. If it's not on your calendar as a priority, it won't happen. I used to enjoy the woods early in the morning as a pick-me-up before work or in the evening after work. If you go early or late, check to see when the sun will rise and set, choose your location, date and time and stick to it!

2) Grab a friend (or a dog!) Having a little accountability is a really effective way to get you out of the house...even if it's just those sad puppy dog eyes.

3) Prep your route. If you're venturing into the woods or a new trail, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and/or have a map if you can. It's easy to get twisted around on unfamiliar trails, but don't let that intimidate you. With a bit of planning and attention, you can safely explore new and exciting areas.

4) Know your local parks. We are SO lucky to have tons of gorgeous, hidden gems in our area. Having a variety of areas to choose from keeps things interesting. Regardless of where you live, take the time to look up local parks in your area. Watch for green space on Google maps that you might not have noticed; some of the smaller parks are the best ones!

5) Savor tiny aspects of nature. If you can't get out into the forest or to the beach every day, you CAN probably still walk with your bare feet in the grass. Or take your lunch-break outside instead of at a desk. Maybe bring some flowers or live plants into your work space or home and enjoy the balancing energy that they provide.

Looking for more help?

Join in this Saturday, April 4th at 10:00am for a guided spring hike + outdoor yoga! This is a great way to combine the peaceful quality of nature with the mindfulness and awareness of yoga.

Meet in the small parking lot at Bushy Run Park (opposite side of the road from the museum) and bring a yoga mat, if you choose. Sign up for $15 in advance or $20 cash, day-of.

Winter Hiking Tips

Now is a fabulous time for walking or hiking in the woods. (In case you are wondering, I've determined that the only real difference between walking and hiking is that a backpack is included in the latter.) Many people head out to our lovely local parks in spring and summer, neglecting the gorgeous fall colors or the quiet beauty of the winter woods.

My favorite part about being in the woods this time of year is that no one else seems to realize how lovely it is, so we have the whole place to ourselves. But if you're new or not used to hiking, there are a few key tips that will make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for you!

1) Eco-friendly Water Bottle: Disposable water bottles might be convenient or necessary in a pinch, but reusable bottles will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. Even if you don't think you'll need it, it's nice to bring along some water to stay hydrated or at least have it in your car. If you're choosing a bottle to purchase, make sure that it's easy to clean.

2) Backpack or Fanny Pack: For longer hikes that will include a meal or other necessities, choose a water-resistant bag to suit your needs.

3) Yoga/Hiking Clothes: Though you want to be able to move comfortably, warmth and insulation are the most important needs in the winter. I usually like to have a moisture-wicking layer, then an insulating layer and finally a water and wind-resistant layer. Always bring gloves, a scarf or neck gator and a hat that will cover your ears.

4) Appropriate Shoes: If you have hiking shoes or comfortable walking boots, great! Otherwise, tennis shoes will usually suffice. Consider bringing or layering an extra pair of socks or adding disposable toe warmers to your shoes.

5) Map, Cell Phone and/or Guide: Though winter woods are more open, snow and leaves can often obscure smaller trails and make it easier to lose your way. If you're on your own, bring a map and make sure your cellphone is charged.

Bonus: Plastic Bag to Collect Trash: This final optional tip is something I highly recommend to bring along whenever you're able. Many of our local parks are maintained on a volunteer basis, or by employees who are already stretched thin with other park maintenance. Doing our part to remove any litter you might find along the way helps to keep wildlife safe, park trails pristine and your conscious clean.

If you're looking for a great hike to try out these tips, kick-off the new year or your yoga practice, check out my upcoming Winter Nature Hike + Yoga this Sunday at 3:00pm at White Oak Park! $20 to sign up.

Meet yoga friends at Angora Gardens in White Oak to embark on a gentle, beginners hike through White Oak Park.

Dress warmly, get some exercise in the fresh, crisp air of winter. Pause along the hike for some breathing and yoga postures (no mat needed) and finish up with complimentary hot tea! Perfect for beginners.

Thanks for reading!



Summer Solstice Celebration

If you missed the Summer Solstice Bash this weekend at Oak Hollow Park, you're not too late to celebrate with us! The solstice is actually happening this coming Monday, so feel free to share in the experience and practice along with us.

We learned a bit about the solstice history, and how it's energetically a time of renewal and change. One of my favorite facts is that Vikings used to celebrate the solstice by settling disputes. Maybe we should bring that back!

After the history, we headed into the woods to collect natural material for our nature mandalas. We chose mindfully, whatever we were drawn to and collected just what we needed from Mother Nature. Everyone found unique and personalized pieces.

Back up to the field, we found a lovely patch of shade to enjoy a yin yoga practice. The solstice is a great time to practice yin yoga, as it is cooling, calming and balancing for the yang energy of summer. We focused on creating an intention behind the practice, asking ourselves: what actions, speech and thoughts would lead us toward steady and undisturbed calmness in the coming months?

Mary Oliver was a big part of our yoga practice, with her poem, The Summer Day. After mindfully creating the nature mandalas right on our mats, everyone developed a self-addressed envelope to write their summer solstice intention. (If you have a friend to practice with, you can mail them to each other in the fall!)

We released the mandala material back to nature (in super slow motion) and ended our special day together. I'm looking forward to mailing back the summer intentions in the fall!