True Nature Travels Blog

First, I planned a trip to Colombia. Then, a dear friend set her wedding date in California. A few days later, my dad broke his hip in Texas. I live in Florida, so now, I have three big trips planned in the next 2½ months.

Here are three questions I plan to take with me in my hip pocket to help me use my energy wisely, make the best decisions I can, and travel with purpose this summer.

sumer travel
What’s Meaningful Now?

Meaningful experiences can be elusive. It’s no wonder we want to travel on big adventures to far away places! Maybe we’ll get some meaningful luminosity into our veins that we can bring home to light our world.

All the meaning we experience in life, we create ourselves, out of our own minds. The world itself remains inherently neutral. That’s why “What’s meaningful now?” is such an important question!

My first meditation teacher, Sarah Powers, taught “What’s meaningful now?” as a way of staying with the heart and taking responsibility for ourselves.

The question calls up present moment guidance for making decisions and prevents us from sleepwalking through life. It taps us into creativity and frees us from ideas about what we should do or be. It helps us take advantage of opportunities and prevents regret.

This summer, ask, “What’s meaningful now?” and follow the thread.

summer travel

What’s Really Going On?

Life can be dramatic, emotional, confusing.

“What’s really going on?” takes us below the surface with curiosity about what we’re not seeing. It asks us to stretch beyond our assumptions, into wider realizations about the world and deeper understandings of ourselves.

“What’s really going on?” teaches us to reflect things as they are. It illuminates causes and context, so everything stands in its true shape, free from the light our preferences may cast.

I regularly use “What’s really going on?” for insight into anger. It always uncovers a more vulnerable feeling underneath, like fear, hurt, fatigue, or embarrassment. Then, I can honor that feeling instead of being driven around by my anger.

If your travels take you into situations, places, or cultures that are new to you, this question will help you get out of your head, pay attention, and engage more deeply.

You will be tempted by this question to analyze or tell a story about what’s happening. Don’t try to figure anything out! Feel into your body, and make more subtle observations. Maintain kindness.

adventure travel

How can I help?

If we’re not careful, a big vacation, a travel adventure, or an international retreat can end up being all about me, me, me! “How can I help?” provides an antidote to becoming self-absorbed and spurs us to connect with others.

When you’re traveling, “How can I help?” defers authority to local wisdom and makes you a good guest. Asked with humility, this question can pierce through awkward circumstances of inequality and shift you into listening and respect.

This question also makes us aware of our gifts and our agency. It points us to what we can do in this world of overwhelm.

“How can I help?” is an evolutionary question that leapfrogs ego’s desires and complaints to reconnect us with generosity and abundance. An attitude of “How can I help?” makes the world safer for everyone to explore, take risks, and grow.

Are you picturing yourself planting trees or feeding the homeless? Great! Also know that helping can look like taking a step back and giving space to others. It can look like patience. Or a smile.

Practice these questions. Put them in your pocket this summer, and take them with you… to the beach, as you step off the plane, while sipping your morning tea, to plan your next adventure.

Let the questions be touchstones – a way to take refuge in wisdom. Some days, they’ll reveal great insights. Other days, you’ll get silence in return. That’s ok! “I don’t know,” is always a valid response! Let yourself experience “don’t know” mind. Become better acquainted with uncertainty.

Notice how the ritual of being with these questions develops. Keep them with you until they’ve served their purpose, then let them go, and begin your next practice on life’s journey.

summer travel

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management,delana thompson and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

new-year-open-mind-1

I arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico with a terrible, feverish flu. This was a year ago, when my partner and I traveled to the picturesque, coastal village of Puerto Ángel, to celebrate the New Year with friends.

Puerto Ángel nestles between the mountains and the sea, with little winding roads, that I’m sure have charming appeal for the average visitor. Each day, determined to make the most of our journey, I’d wedge my sick self into our little rental car, packed with 6 people, and we’d head for the beach, maneuvering around all the other cars and trucks on those narrow lanes. Then, at night, I would lie awake, burning up with fever, and wonder semi-dramatically, “Is this illness permanently damaging my health?”

When any thought arises, it means the mind has condensed out of openness into the form of the thought. If the thought happens to carry a tinge of suffering, then further thoughts can quickly cordon off the mind, closing us in, making our view of the world smaller and smaller. This was not what I envisioned for our trip to Mexico!

When we fall into cramped mental spaces of frustration and dissatisfaction, it’s easy to become depressed, space out, go into denial, or become disconnected from the amazing world around us… especially if we happen to be sick! I was doing my best to keep my mind open through the aching haze of flu and fever, but connecting with the local culture and enjoying my time at the beach weren’t coming easily to me.

Meanwhile, I knew the true nature of my mind was still there in the background: vast, spacious, and totally open to possibility. I had enough awareness to notice my thoughts were hemming me in, but the illness made it difficult to interrupt myself and change course. (Even when we feel well, attachment to our thoughts and opinions can be fierce!)

One way to free the mind and create more possibility for ourselves is to imagine putting space around the thoughts.

For this practice, I find it helpful to picture stubborn thoughts like walls – mental structures we’re temporarily unable to see through. If we can remember that out beyond the enclosing walls of our thinking, the vast, open space of the mind remains available to us, then we have a chance to open a window and reconnect with that natural openness.

Going into a spacious landscape for this practice – next to the ocean, under the sky, on a mountain, in a grassy field, or even high up in a skyscraper – to experience open space directly can really new-year-open-mindhelp the mind open up.

The trick here, is not to force our thinking to change. We’re not trying to wrestle our minds to the ground or deny how we’re feeling. Instead, we’re simply remembering the all-encompassing wisdom of the mind, the wisdom of spaciousness, out beyond our thoughts.

Once we’ve tapped into the wisdom of spaciousness, a thought that is true, harmless, and kind will thrive and do good works, while a thought that creates conflict, confusion, or fear will gently and gradually transform.

This heals us.

The wisdom of spaciousness lets the mind breathe with creative energy.

It helps us see things from a wide angle and move inclusively into the fullness of who we are, beyond limiting thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.

After a string of feverish, headachy, yellow-sun days, spent at hot beaches or winding through cramped, village roads, we gathered with our friends on the big, thatched-roof porch behind the seaside house they rented, to welcome the new year.

While waiting for midnight, I kept sending my mind into the deep, moon-blue expanse of night sky and sea, like a prayer of openness for the year to come. Beginning the year in that cathedral of wide, clear sky, with my mind at rest in its natural spaciousness, felt wonderfully healing. Whatever the year might bring, I knew I would be ready for it because my mind was open.

What tricks and tips do you have for keeping an open mind this year? I’d love to hear!

About the Author:

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management, and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

It’s almost time to part ways with 2018 and welcome in a new year. This is a great time for reflection, gratitude, letting go of what needs to be left behind and starting fresh. Aren’t we so lucky to be able to do this? It is also the period when we make new year’s resolutions, to begin the next chapter of our lives by setting clear intentions.

Amongst the personal goals you will create for yourself, here are 3 mindful new year’s resolutions you can make for 2019.

Acknowledge Your Inner Power

We are all gifted with an immense power within. We are creators with amazing capabilities to transform ourselves and our world in a way that creates more harmony and balance. Realise your potential and all the wonderful things you can do and manifest in your life. As reflect over the experiences you had this year, bring to your mind the more challenging ones and how you were able to deal with them. You will realize that what once seemed impossible to cope with, was actually just a way to teach you how to tap into this inner power you hold. You have the ability to open any barriers that may block your way ahead, and the key to this is by realising it. Know that if you become more mindful of yourself and your inner stillness, no external events or factors can take this away from you. Tapping into your inner power will also guide you towards new ways of approaching life with more confidence and self-trust, knowing that whatever road blocks you may encounter, you can trust yourself to keep moving forward.

Embrace Your Uniqueness

The most beautiful aspect of human kind is that we are all unique. No two people on this planet are the same, as our souls have their own paths to journey on. Your unique talents are yours, you have been gifted with these so you can serve the world in your own special way. We often compare ourselves with others and put a negative spin to it, wishing we had the things they did. The good news is that you will never be like somebody else; the not so good news is that if you don’t embrace this, you will never let your true authentic self shine. Make this part of your new year’s resolutions and discover just how beautiful you are inside out, just the way you are. Find your unique qualities and what makes you be YOU. Our purpose is often wrapped around in these unique qualities and as we begin to discover and manifest them, it starts to shine and be released. We find our way by being and living as our most original self. The great thing about embracing your uniqueness is that it will teach you to accept other people for who they are, without any judgement.

new year blog 5

Spread Unconditional Love

The heart chakra, located in the middle of the chest is the energy centre where infinite unconditional love resides. We are so blessed to be gifted with the ability to always give and receive love without it ever running out. Being mindful of this aspect, you can first start by making a pact with yourself that for 2019, you will access this great superpower more often. The only way to realise its potential is to first use it for yourself. As part of your 2019 new year’s resolutions, start to love yourself unconditionally and you will see just how much your inner and outer world will change for the better. Unconditional love is the selfless kind, the type you give with no expectation, other than to share this magical ability with others. When you stand from a place of love, you will start to see beauty in everything and everyone. And it really doesn’t matter what others’ think of you because when you spread love everywhere you go, you create a positive impact.

Always know that you have the opportunity to recreate and reshape your outer world by nurturing your inner one. Bring your awareness to these 3 new year’s resolutions, meditate on them and sit with each one for as long as you need to. Eventually, they will become your beacon of light to brighten your days as you step foot into a new chapter, which it’s yours to create.

 

About the Author

Miriam Indries is a published author, yoga and meditation teacher, passionate about holistic healing. She is also a qualified Ayurveda Practitioner and NLP coach. A keen traveller, wondering soul and student of life, Miriam is the creator of Self-Elevation.com, online platform empowering others to find their greatness.

True Nature Travels Blog

A mother is something extraordinary. It goes beyond the basics of what a “mother” is or should be. Mother is the feminine, a woman who provides, loves, nurtures, and creates. A woman of strength and softness with a heart so compassionate that her warmth comes through with just a simple hug. So much love we have for these wild women who have raised us, sheltered us, taught us lessons, listened, nurtured, and also stayed in her own vulnerability showing us even the magical have flaws in perfection and one should only show their authentic self. This is a day to celebrate them, yourself, whoever it may be that is symbolized as this embodiment of complete love and that has helped you through your life.

A mother is in my eyes a type of medicine woman. They heal with so many lessons and love, which they provide. Always giving, beyond themselves, because that is their soul and selfless desire; what devotion they have to their roles of giving. Since these women give us so much medicine, I thought it was only proper that we treat them with medicine on their special day of celebration. I’m speaking of the medicine of Cacao.

“I often call chocolate the best-known food that nobody knows anything about,” said Alexandra Leaf, a self-described “chocolate educator” who runs a business called Chocolate Tours of New York City.
Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-brief-history-of-chocolate-21860917/#WSL7Rh4jPcgU0sJQ.99

Deep in the amazon basin in South America, between Ecuador and Peru, the people would put the fruit whole inside of water mostly for making alcohol, to find that when the bean would ferment it would completely change, becoming a bioavailable food. Culturally Cacao developed in Southern Mexico and Guatemala, among the Mayan and later Aztec kingdoms. Culturally meaning that it became a common part of daily life, cuisine, ritual, and art mythology. These people would make the bean into a chocolate and mix it with herbs, creating an elixir finding that this drink would help them expand in multiple ways. Some would say it opens your heart and portals in the body. It was used both for spiritual reasons as well as for healthy fats which help with brain developing properties, amazing minerals such as magnesium, antioxidants that help the body naturally detoxify, and lastly it brings mind altering properties due to Alkaloids. This was a drink for uplifting the mood, gaining a natural source of energy, and also for relaxation. The experience is different for everyone. Some would say they have more of a psychedelic experience, leaving them in a “high.” Some would say it helped them through depressed feelings, times of doubt and stress. And for others it was mostly just used for rites of passage, funerals, weddings, births, etc. Creating an uplifting mood, a level of openness to what is, feeling blissful and fully alive. How could we not want to treat our mothers, the complete divine, to this divine drink?

Now instead of making a recipe myself, I decided to go to a better source, a dear friend of mines company, Cacoco, based out of Santa Cruz, Ca. I want to share this with you for a few reasons. First off, this company has a mission to not only supply their customers a healthy, safe, and delicious product with uncompromised quality and integrity, but to also embrace environmental sustainability, healthy vibrant lifestyles, and social responsibility.

I have some of the deepest respect for these guys and their mission. Food as medicine and enjoyment is some of the finest gifts from this earth we can get. These fellas are going to make an impact on this planet and community in beautiful ways, as they already are. I feel a way we can impact growth as humans and really start giving back to our planet more is by celebrating people’s gifts that they are blessed with, their talents, passions and offer an energy exchange in return.

Places to order; directly from their site https://drinkcacoco.com/pages/about; Found in Whole Foods Markets in Northern California; Found in health food stores all over the west coast.

         I hope you enjoy this day of the feminine and really celebrate, celebrate for all of the gifts that Mothers have blessed us with.

 

About the Author: 

Chelsea Shapouri, currently in Ventura, California, is an entrepreneur with the love for holistic health, yoga/meditation, herbal medicine, travel, and the outdoors. Her aim is to help people achieve their true authenticity, move away from stress and into balance using her knowledge with Holistic Living. Chelsea currently is teaching “Yoga Medicine” at local studios and indoor rock climbing gyms, creating a cook book, taking photos with her favorite companions, hosting workshops locally, and enjoying the ocean and trails on her days off. To learn more about her mission and offers you can go to her website; Thegrainsoflife.com or email her at; thegrainsoflife@yahoo.com. Join the team to spread this awareness of happiness as well as taking care of our earth and people.

True Nature Travels Blog

Nature has always been my “safe space”. When life gets a little too much, I find my way to the trees, dig my toes into the dirt, and breathe. It’s there that I feel most at home, and sooner or later, I find the connection to Earth helps me re-connect to my self as well. Unfortunately, winter always brings a dip in this sense of connection. As a native-Californian, I thrive on sunshine. The snowy meadows and dreary rain clouds are not exactly what I consider inviting. By the time winter comes to a close, I find myself feeling disconnected, flustered, and a little lost. Which is why I use Spring as an opportunity to reconnect with Mother Earth. The following are a few practices that help me rebuild my connection with Mother Earth; follow along and join me in building a stronger, lasting relationship with her this Spring!

Stop and smell the roses (or wildflowers)

While I generally keep away from clichés, I couldn’t help myself with this one. Spring is a time when trees start getting their leaves back, hills turn vibrant shades of green, and wildflowers start working their way up through the melting frost. Take time this season to appreciate the vibrant world budding around you.

Watch a young tree swaying in the wind outside your office window. Pause while your dog sniffs a tree to gaze at your neighbor’s stunning garden. Plant a garden of your own and watch it come to life as the season progresses. Or simply sit outside and be. Feel the air against your cheek, smell the fragrant flowers and fresh grass all around you, watch the clouds float across the sky. Simply taking a moment to appreciate nature can help you reconnect to Mother Earth and all her abundance.

Dance in the rain

Not every day in Spring is sunshine and roses. The rainclouds will still come. But don’t let them bring you down! Embrace the showers and all they do to help Mother Earth grow more luscious every day. Next time it rains, take a moment to be with that rain.

Maybe it’s simply standing under an awning and feeling the crisp air of a rainy day while you contemplate the life that this dreary weather brings. Or maybe you put on a swimsuit, head to a muddy puddle, and dance joyously as the rain splatters on your hair. However you decide to experience it, let yourself feel the delight Mother Earth feels when the pouring rain nourishes her dry body.

Leave your shoes at home

Whether you spend five minutes standing with your toes in the grass or decide to go for a barefoot hike through the countryside, there is hardly a more powerful way to reconnect with Mother Earth than taking off your shoes.

Forming a connection between the sole of your foot and Mother Earth’s diverse landscape is a powerful way to feel the pulse of the Earth beneath you, find that center that runs from the core of your heart to the core of the planet, and remember the stability and love that Mother Earth provides every single day.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty

This spring, get your hands dirty. You can start with something small, like lying down on a grassy hill without putting a towel down, or you can go all in and spend some time playing in the mud or rolling down a hill. Embrace the inner child that longs to get as close to Mother Earth as possible, and don’t worry if some grass stains result. It’s a small price to pay for the joy and connection you’ll find when you immerse yourself in Earth.

Reconnect with Mother Earth and maintain that connection

These practices are all simple ways to find your connection, but it’s easier to reconnect with Mother Earth than it is to maintain that connection. Once you find that connection, do your best to hold onto it. One way to do that is to take these practices and incorporate them into your daily (or weekly) routine. Another is to weave it together with other practices, like journaling, yoga, or meditation, that support a deeper connection with the world around you. Whatever practices speak to you, don’t just try them from time to time. Live them. Become them. And watch as they lead you closer to Mother Earth with each passing day.

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore, the Director of Operations at True Nature Travels, is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Spring cleaning - spring approaching

Is it really already time to think about spring? I don’t know about you, but the as much as I adore the sunshine and wildflowers that come with the season, I always have a difficult time pulling myself out of the winter doldrums and into the elation of spring. My body is still heavy with soups and cocoa, my eyes still droop from short days and long nights, and my mind is weary from months of hibernation and self-reflection. This transition has been, and probably always will be, a difficult one for me. Which is why I have created a sort of spring cleaning tradition to enact when the poppies start blooming and the tree leaves return. If embracing the high-energy season of spring seems daunting, this routine will help.

Step 1: Clean out your physical space

Spring Cleaning - Physical SPace

Before I can apply the spirit of spring cleaning to my lifestyle or mental space, I have to apply it to my home. I have a Spotify playlist entitled “Dance it Out.” I turn the speakers on high, open all the windows (sorry neighbors), and I dance it out. I dance out the dust bunnies, toothpaste splattered mirrors, and unvacuumed carpets. Then I dig into the desk drawers and back closet space, making “Trash” and “Giveaway” piles larger than expected.

When spring cleaning day (or week, if I am being entirely honest) comes around, I stick with three strict rules. Rule 1: If I haven’t used it over the past season or forgot I had it, I’m getting rid of it. Rule 2: Everything has a place; if it doesn’t and I’m just trying to make room for it (on bookshelves, countertops, or in my dresser), then I’m getting rid of it. Rule 3: If it doesn’t have an obvious and necessary use, and doesn’t bring me some personal or sentimental joy, I’m getting rid of it. Take the edamame growing kit my neighbor gave me; I haven’t used it, I don’t know where to put it, and honestly, I have no interest in growing edamame when it’s like $2 at Trader Joes. So that one goes in the giveaway pile. Soon enough, my apartment starts to look less like a hoarder’s den and more like a home.

Step 2: Give your routine new life

Spring Cleaning - schedule

Once my living quarters have been scrubbed and re-organized, I turn the mop on my lifestyle. I grab a pen and paper (or maybe I have an entire notebook dedicated to this purpose, but that’s beside the point…) and I start sketching out my schedule. I look back on the past three months and jot down what my average routine was. When did I work? When did I exercise? When did I see friends, do art, or go outside?

On the next page, I think about what I think worked for me and what I think I would like to change. This year, for example, I started a workout routine over the winter that brought me to the climbing gym three days a week. I really enjoyed that and would like to keep in up in the spring. I did not, however, write nearly as much as I had intended to. That is something I want to carve more time out for.

So, with all these notes in mind and on paper, I start designing an ideal spring schedule. I know I won’t stick to it every day, so I try not to be too specific, but I set general goals like “write for an hour before work every morning” or “go for a 4+ mile hike at least once a week”. Sometimes the goals are specific, like “meditate for five minutes every day as soon as you wake up.” Other times they are really vague, like “say yes to new things.” Either way, I dedicate some time to giving my schedule and routine the spring cleaning treatment, then do my best to stick with it as the season progresses.

Step 3: Power wash your mental space

Spring cleaning - mental space

Finally, it’s time to brush the cobwebs away and dig into the well-packed boxes shoved into the recesses of my mind. During the winter, I go into full hibernation mode. I pretty much live off of books, baths, and tea from December through February and do my best to stay as covered by blankets as possible throughout the season. When Spring comes, I’m still content with my lethargy and my brain moves with the slow, gentle pace of a sleepy tortoise.

But spring is a time for action. It’s a time for a change and trying new things. Growth, renewal, birth; these are the themes of the season and they don’t pair well with lethargy and melancholy.

Which is why the final step of my spring cleaning routine is to clean out my mind. Not unlike my methods for cleaning my physical space and routine, my mental cleaning process involves a careful consideration of what to keep and what to let go. I usually start static; I sit in meditation or else get a journal out and start contemplating where my mind is at. How do I feel about myself lately? What about how I engage with others, with my goals, with my work, and with my environment? Do I feel happy lately? Sad? Tired? Energetic? I evaluate my mental space with a kind eye, lacking judgment and simply gaining awareness as to what is going on in there.

Spring cleaning - paddleboard

Then I move onto something active. I go for a hike, get out on the paddleboard, or flow through a vigorous yoga practice. I move until my body drips with sweat and my brain finds that sweet, endorphin-filled space of emptiness.

Lastly, I go back to stillness and turn my thoughts to questions like, “what brings me joy?” and “what I love most about myself?” As is my style, I make a list. I plant seeds of dreams, goals, and ambitions. I water them with love and hope. Then I get outside and let that bright spring sunshine help them grow into something beautiful.

 Spring cleaning - blossoms

True Nature Travels Blog

Is it just me, or does it seem like every yoga teacher’s theme for every class in autumn is gratitude? A few weeks ago, I was in a particularly tense pigeon pose. While my hips were begging me to stop, my yoga teacher was prattling on about how we should be grateful for our bodies, even when they felt tense and sore. That we should practice cultivating gratitude even when things are uncomfortable.

be-thankful

“I get it!” I wanted to scream, “it’s Thanksgiving season. Gratitude. Blah blah blah.” I was not feeling very grateful.

Then again, how could I? The past year has felt like a constant battle.

I’d struggled through graduate school–one of the most stress-inducing, exhausting experiences of my life. I’d worked for a company that disrespected and over-worked its employees. I’d lost a loved one to cancer.

And it all culminated in flying back to my parents’ house because I was in excruciating pain and none of the doctors in Edinburgh (where I’d been living at the time) could figure out why.

What did I have to be grateful for?

But the teacher just kept insisting that we should be cultivating gratitude.

gratitude

“Try looking at things from a different perspective,” she suggested as we settled into pigeon on the other side. “Instead of focusing on the pain and tension, focus on the good. Consider what you have to be grateful for.”

At first, I rolled my eyes.

Then I took a deep breath and tried it. I scanned my mind in search of something to be grateful for. I started to look at the past year with a new perspective.

Graduate school had been incredibly difficult and, frankly, I don’t think it was the right fit for me. But I never would have known that if I hadn’t tried. And it gave me the opportunity to live in Edinburgh for a year, which is now my favorite city on Earth. Plus, the people I lived with are now lifelong friends and some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

The company I worked for in Edinburgh was awful. Every one of their employees got injured and sick because of how hard they worked us. If I’d stayed there any longer than I did, I think it would have broken me. But I didn’t. I quit. And I learned a lot about what I need from an employer. Now I’m working a job I love for a company I adore. And sometimes I honestly think my boss worries about my well-being more than I do.

I lost someone I love very much to cancer. And I still get choked up when I think about it. But I also smile whenever I think about her. She is one of the most inspiring, big-hearted people I know. The world may be a little darker without her in it, but my life will always be a little brighter for having known her.cultivating-gratitude

I was not happy about leaving Edinburgh. I huffed and puffed the entire flight back to California. And then I got home. And my doctor diagnosed me with nerve damage the minute he examined me and sent me to a surgeon who had me in, out, and fixed in a matter of hours. The healing process has been relatively fast and I am already, just two months after surgery, almost back to 100 percent. This after being unable to stand up straight for months.

So, while it has been one of the more difficult years of my life, I guess there are still some things to be grateful for.

The stubborn side of me didn’t want to admit it, but my yoga teacher was right. Even when everything feels stressful, painful, and overwhelming… there is still a place for gratitude.

As the endlessly wise Dumbledore once said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.

turn-on-the-light

I like to think of gratitude as that light. We can wallow in the pain and suffering and leave the lights off. It’s easy enough to do.

What’s much harder is to turn on the light.

In times of darkness, it’s hard to practice cultivating gratitude. But we need to let gratitude act as the light that illuminates the reasons we have for being happy, even when things are darker than ever.

For the past few months, I have been wallowing in that darkness. Which, I believe, is what I needed at the time. There was a lot of pain and anger in me and I needed to feel it before I could come out on the other side.

But I think I’m ready to turn on the light.

This holiday season, I am going to work on cultivating gratitude. After all, it is the season of Thanksgiving!

So, tell me… what are you grateful for?

woman-cultivating-gratitude

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Fall brings beautiful colors, crisp air, and inspiring energies. During this season, we may become more aware of our surroundings, more aware of how alive Mother Earth is, and more aware of what we may take for granted each and every day. Celebrate autumn by following this Sun Salutation of Gratitude and tune into awareness. From this awareness, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude.

Sun Salutation of Gratitude

sun salutation

We’ll begin in mountain pose, hands to prayer tuning into the energies around and within us.

From Mountain Pose, we take a breath in, lift our arms overhead to the sky, palms open, gathering gratitude and bringing it back to heart center. We inhale and raise our arms to the sky again. As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet

As we exhale, we swan dive, bowing to the earth, giving respect and gratitude for all she gives us. We breathe into standing forward fold, feet hip-width apart, knees bent as needed. The crown of the head faces the floor and we relax our neck, visualizing the tranquil leaves blowing in the wind.Inhale into

Inhale into half-way lift, bending the knees to straighten the spine, shoulders away from your ears making space to encourage gratitude to seep in. On the next exhale, we step back into high plank, shoulders over the wrists moving back and away from the ears, lower abdomen in and up while pressing your heels back. In plank, we tune into our strength and resilience, and our ability to repair the environment a little every day through our choices and actions.

On your next exhale, moving through Chattaranga or dropping your knees to the floor, focus on hugging the elbows in at your side. Inhale into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog, focusing your eyes on a new detail in your current environment.

As your shoulder blades or wings move towards your spine, we begin thinking about all the birds that migrate throughout the world. We give gratitude for when we are able to witness one of these beautiful creatures in different regions of our Earth.

We exhale back into downward facing dog pressing our hands and heels into the Earth, focusing on creating space between our ears and shoulders and lengthening our spine.

We are grounded, we are resilient, we are full of wisdom and creativity to act how we want to move through this world. May

May the space we create through our lengthened spine in this physical practice of yoga symbolize the space we create for gratitude and for experiences to learn and grow. We walk our feet to our hands, hanging in forward-fold, envisioning all the space we are creating. Perhaps this space allows for the gratitude we bring in through travel, through experiencing other cultures, other ecosystems, and environments, other possible ways of life.sun salutations

We slowly rise up raising our arms once again up to the sky, this time sensing how the energy we’re gathering may have changed through our practice. As we bring our hands to heart center, we breathe, tuning into our energy and radiating our inner light out to all other beings.

As you watch the falling leaves, hear the changing sounds of wildlife, and feel the crisp air and shorter days, I encourage you to focus on appreciating the beauty and details of the diverse ecosystems you routinely pass by.

Sometimes travel can help us expand our horizons and experience gratitude from a different angle. And travel incorporating yoga and service… that practice opens up spaces within our emotional and physical body we did not even realize we could access. May you shine your light out to all beings.

Namaste.

We would love for you to join us on one of our many retreats. Please see our calendar here.

 

True Nature Travels Blog

Meditation and running has long been considered only for improving physical health. But the recent studies have shown that the running, along with meditation, will help a lot in preventing or reducing depression.

meditation and runningPeople who have depression tend to be ruminative thinkers, and they worry a lot. They also tend to have a smaller hippocampus on the brain and it further contributes to the worsening of the symptoms. Recent studies have shown that the meditation when combined with running has a profound effect in increasing the number of cells and the size of hippocampus in the brain.

The study involved 52 participants who underwent the combination of aerobic exercises and meditation for over two sessions per week. At the end of the 8 week study the people who had major depressive disorder reported significantly less depressive symptoms. The study also concluded: “There are two behavioral therapies, aerobic exercise and meditation, which have demonstrated benefits for individuals suffering with depression, are not accompanied by profound side effects and can be practiced across the lifespan.”meditation running

Like this, there are many of the studies that have repeatedly proven that meditation, when combined with any form of aerobic exercises like running can reduce the depressive symptoms than that of psychotropic medications. In a world where we think that just by throwing money at the scientist we can invent anything, we have forgotten the benefits that the nature has given to us.

How to combine meditation and running?

As you may have observed the above study demonstrated the benefits of running when combined with meditation for reducing the depressive symptoms. It also concluded that these two activities when combined will have a profound positive effects than that of doing either of the two.

Now the question is, how do you combine meditation and running for maximum effects?

Meditating before running is found to be more beneficial. This sequence carries all the benefits that any form of pre-workout meditation carries. The practice of tuning into the body and breath prior to physical exertion might help increase focus and reinforce your commitment to strengthening and nurturing your entire body. It also helps you to be more mindful while running, which in turn enhances the release of feel good  hormones a.k.a endorphins.

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Before doing any sort of aerobic exercises whether it be running on a treadmill or cycling, meditating even for 5 minutes is very beneficial for your mental health.

You can do meditation in the form of mindfulness breathing, or a guided meditation with the help of apps like Headspace or SoundCloud. If you are new to meditation I highly suggest you to make use of guided meditation instead of just mindfully focusing on your breath. Because, at the beginning you may find it hard to concentrate on your breath without making your mind to wander.

Many people also suggest to do meditation after working out or running.They tend to get a deep relaxation state. I tried this method and I noticed that after running, my body will be exhausted and I will not be able to concentrate on my breath. In short, for me, the post workout meditation may help but not the post running meditation.

What about meditation during running?

Doing meditation while running is also called mindful running, similar to mindful walking. This concept has gained a lot of buzz in the recent times.

Let me explain you how you can double the benefits of running by doing it mindfully.

running

While running, rather than just thinking about a random topic just focus on what’s going on with your muscles and in the surroundings (if you are running on a road). Just observe what’s going on in your mind and how you are feeling right now. Also, observe your breathing patterns while running. Try focusing on your foot hitting the floor while running. This kind of non judgmental awareness to the physical and mental sensations while running will help you to double the benefits of running for your health.

This kind of mindfulness practices when adopted in your daily life, helps you a lot in getting rid of those ruminative thoughts about the past or the anxiety about the future. In addition to this, any form of mindfulness practices improve those parts of the brain, especially the pre-frontal cortex that is involved in deep focus and the presence of mind.

Wrapping up: Reading this blog post was a very easy job for you.  But implementing the techniques that have mentioned in this blog post is not that easy job. Try to incorporate the techniques that I have mentioned in this blog post mindfully in your life and you can see the great benefits and improvement in your health within few days.

Hope you loved this blog post. Make sure you share your views on this post below.

About the Author: This article has been written by James Hood from FitnessAbout. He is an avid bodybuilder, a proud vegan, God believer, and also tries to cut the crap promoted by mainstream media. He believes in a holistic approach for personal excellence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Nature Travels Blog

IMG_2344_snapTrue Nature is so fortunate to be working along side amazing, inspiring, and talented teachers that lead global retreats! Two of our newest instructors is leading a Costa Rican retreat in February 2017.

Join Virginia natives Becky and Betty for a week of self discovery and reconnection with the core of our infinite being. Surrounded by nature, nestled between the ocean and the jungle, warmed by the tropical air and embraced by the infinite sky, we will take advantage of the surrounding elements by combining asana beachpractice with workshops that invite earth, air, wind, and fire to parallel the elements within us.

We will explore the beauty of the external landscapes of Playa Uvita, Costa Rica while navigating our internal landscapes; flowing freely on our mats while quieting our minds with stillness and meditation. As we partake in island adventures, we remain open to infinite possibilities. As our journeys take us within, we invite you to dive deep through opportunities for ceremonial work, self reflection, and healing. Stripping away the distractions of everyday life, we will get back to basics, cultivating our ever present and universal truth that lies within.

You can learn more about their retreat and sign-up here! 

Becky shared with us one of her inspirational poems with us. Take a look below……..

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Knowing

Something deep within me knows. Knows where I have been and where I am going. It is not a knowing in my mind. It is a knowing deeply rooted in the depths of my soul. It is the animal of my body; constantly in touch with my instincts no matter how distracting the stories become.

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A tiny seed does not need instructions to grow as it fearlessly roots down into its loving mother two then courageously grow up towards its father. The seed does not think. It knows.

A delicate spider does not study an instruction manual to weave her silver miracle that comes forth from within; providing her with everything she needs to survive. The spider does not think. Golden GoddessShe knows.

A stallion does not need permission to run wildly through the fields when his muscles ache to move. He listens, he feels, he unapologetically flies. The horse does not think. He knows.

Why must I think?!

Ha!

Exactly.

I shall leave you to your thoughts as I grow… As I weave… as I fly… Empty and free…

This is what it is to trust.

Namaste.

Here is a little bit about this good vibe goddess!

Becky Eschenroeder—a Richmond Virginia native—is an accomplished Yogi who is recognized as a 500 hour RYT, 200 hour E-RYT, RCYT and was voted as one of the top three yoga instructors by Richmond Magazine in 2015. Becky studied under Arlene Bjork and Grace Yoga Training Systems prior to Arlene’s passing in late 2009. Becky then obtained her 500 hour RYT through Om On Yoga under the guidance and wisdom of Jennifer Elliot. It is through this experience that she made the commitment to be a full-time yoga teacher. Becky made the conscious decision to dedicate her life to bringing her love of yoga, movement, and learning to all walks of life as evidenced by her deep commitment and involvement in such initiatives as Project Yoga Richmond and YoKid.Golden Goddess

With a degree in Psychology from James Madison University combined with her elementary school teaching license from Mary Baldwin College, Becky uses both her knowledge and experience in these disciplines to design yoga workshops, classes and retreats, here and abroad, that expand the senses, broadens the mind, and opens the heart to what is truly possible. Her ability to meaningfully connect with those she serves so selflessly arises out of her personal commitment and disciplined approach to deepening her own learning and practice of yoga, philosophy, and meditation.

Becky has been a proud Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, Project Yoga Richmond and YoKid Stretch Your Limits. Becky is a certified YoKid Facilitator Trainer responsible for training fellow adults in ways to incorporate yoga into children’s lives. Becky is also trained to teach children’s yoga through the “Yoga with Nitya” format, and yoga to individuals who have undergone trauma.

Becky can be seen riding her bike around town as she commutes to and from teaching yoga classes, private lessons, and meeting with community leaders. You might also see her leading a Yoga Hike along the James River during the warmer Virginia months. These only a couple of many examples of how she lives her life in full beauty and in alignment with the yoga teachings and practice. Becky is a creative and passionate woman who loves art, freelance photography, hiking, kayaking, traveling and running along with most outdoor adventure activities. She adores doing all these things with family and friends—both old and new.

This is the fundamental lesson that keeps Becky grounded in uncertain times and one that she learned many years ago when she first began practicing on the mat. Becky lives her life holding a deep belief that it is her responsibility to guide others down this path and help lift them up through action and word. Namaste.