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HomeWellnessToo Much Anxiety, Stress? Try Connecting With Nature

Too Much Anxiety, Stress? Try Connecting With Nature

The New Year brings two January programs to Sheldrake Nature Center. They both focus on connecting with nature by helping you develop mindfulness tools.

Starting on on January 5, a free evening program called “All We Can Save Circle” is like a zoom book club, but even better.  The program is based on the literary work, All We Can Save, an anthology of essays and poems from 60 scientists, activists, policy-makers, and artists, who make a strong case for why we should all care about the environment.

Katy Romita, mindfulness teacher and founder of One Small Stone

Each session will be led by Katy Romita, a certified Meditation and Mindfulness Instructor and a Mindful Schools Mindfulness Foundations graduate, bringing nearly two decades of experience in a variety of meditation practices. Katy has also earned certificates from Cornell’s Civic Ecology Lab and is a former Co-President on the Board of Directors of Sheldrake.

“I think a lot of people care about the environment,” says Romita, “but because we are all really busy, it’s important to have some sense of what you could actually do to make a difference. Otherwise, the problem is just too overwhelming and hard to grapple with.
The writing in All We Can Save and, importantly, the group discussion and learning that will happen between participants who have gives us a path for moving forward that feels good and also makes a difference.”

In addition to her work with Sheldrake, Romita is the founder of One Small Stone, an online community with drop-in meditation sessions as well as workshops for environmentalists. Romita started One Small Stone because, like others, she felt anxiety over climate change.

At the same time,” she explains, ” I felt like the problem is hugely overwhelming.  One Small Stone is intended to be a response to this  paralysis, bringing mindfulness (awareness, intention and compassion), plus some curated resources and education, to the problem of climate change so that people can plug into meaningful solutions, wherever they are starting.

Cindy Olsen, founder of Cindy By Nature.

Another January program at Sheldrake, called “Mindfulness in Nature,” is a series of weekly nature walks through the Sheldrake forest, starting January 12. Larchmont parent Cindy Olsen, a certified Kripalu Outdoor Mindful Guide, leads the walks. Olsen also is an experienced Sheldrake environmental educator and founder of Cindy By Nature, LLC.

Each week she shares mindfulness tools– techniques to help us open our awareness to the present moment. Says Olsen, “Nature-based mindfulness tools have the added power of leaning into the wisdom and support that the natural world holds.”

One of Olsen’s favorite mindfulness tools is a simple sensory scan. Spending a few moments noticing what each sense is taking in can anchor a person into the present moment. You can try this now, by giving each sense your full attention for even a few seconds. Let the eyes rest and notice the sounds around you. Then transition to each of the other senses; smell, taste, touch and eventually sight, one at a time.”

For Olsen, the tool with the greatest impact on her own journey into mindfulness is “sit spot” practice. Each morning she begins her day by stepping outside and sitting at the base of a red maple tree in her backyard. Tuning into her breath, relaxing her body, noticing her senses and then noticing what is happening in the world around her.
Some of Olsen’s favorite resources for learning more about nature and mindfulness are available on the “Cindy By Nature” website.




Joyce Newman
Joyce Newman
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.
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