Embrace Nature with all Five Senses!

Nature spontaneously keeps us well. Do not resist her!”

Henry David Thoreau


I returned from Miraval last week, looked at the calendar and asked myself, “Where has July gone?”  In just a few days I’ll be back on the road, headed to my next workshop at Omega in beautiful upstate New York. While I’m there, despite my busy schedule, I’ll make sure to spend some time walking and basking in the natural beauty of the rolling hills and lake of this fabulous wellness center.

Spending time in nature isn’t just good for the soul – it’s good for your health. A study in Japan, of “forest therapy” is based on the theory that because humans evolved in nature, it’s where we feel most comfortable. Physical and mental benefits can be achieved by synchronizing our rhythms with the rhythms of nature.

The study has proven that leisurely forest walks (with cell phone turned off or left in the car), result in a 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, a seven percent decrease in sympathetic nerve activity, a 1.4 percent decrease in blood pressure, and a 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate. Not only that, but participants also report better moods and lower anxiety after a walk in the forest.

It’s no surprise that spending time in nature is key to your spiritual, mental and physical health. Wherever you live and whatever your summer plans might be, there’s not another moment to waste. Get out of the house and spend some time enjoying the warm weather and beauty of the great outdoors!

The idea with shinrin-yoku, inspired by ancient Shinto and Buddhist practices, is to let nature enter your body through all five senses, Bring all of your senses into play and try out a few of these ideas:

1) Journal outdoors:

Take a few minutes out of each day and sit outside with your journal. While you’re outside you can spend some time meditating, listening to the birds or just jump right into your writing. You may choose to write about what’s going on around you, what you hear, and what you see. Or you may choose to write about how you’re feeling. Doing this daily will give you a specific time that you’ll spend outdoors.

2) Look up:

Enjoy nature by learning something new about the birds in your area or the stars in the sky – pick up a guidebook, or download a smart phone app to help you identify birds, or stars and constellations. You can stay in your own backyard, or go off on a weekend excursion to spot some new ones. Either way, bird watching and stargazing will give you a whole new reason to be outside!

3) Enjoy the night:

Grab a friend (or not) and take a long walk in the moonlight – look at the stars and listen to the sounds of the night – the moonlight will cast a new light on everything.  You don’t have to be in a rural or suburban area to enjoy nature – urban areas offer the opportunity to head outside and enjoy the night air and the stars too!

4) Mix up your exercise routine:

Put your gym membership on hold and exercise outdoors. Swimming, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding are all great ways to work out without overheating. Try walking in the early morning or evening—explore a new trail or park in your neighborhood. No matter what style of exercise you choose you’ll benefit from the sun on your face (wear a hat or some sunscreen!) and the wind in your hair.

5) Let the outside in:

Pick up some of your favorite flowers, and open the doors and windows to let in the summer breeze. I’ve picked up a few pots of my favorite herbs and every time I walk by them I get a fresh waft of basil and mint.  They’re a great addition to summer beverages and salads. Now is also a good time to put out collections of shells and rocks from past vacations, or look for some new ones.

6) Go camping:

You know I’m a big supporter of the joy of sleeping outside- I’ve slept outside every night for years. There’s nothing like it to cement your connection with nature and mother Earth.  Even if you don’t do it every night, break out the tent and sleep outdoors at least once this summer. You might want to start the evening with a campfire – even if it’s just in your own backyard.

9) Exercise your creativity:

Set up an easel and paint, or grab your sketchpad or phone camera and capture the natural beauty that’s around you. Take a walk on the beach and collect driftwood, stones or shells. Bring them home and arrange your collection on a shelf or coffee table or frame a mirror or photo with driftwood. You’ll keep the carefree memory of summer all year long.

I hope these ideas have inspired you! Please share your comments below and on Facebook and let me know your favorite way of refreshing and recharging yourself, naturally!


If Our Pets Could Talk



We love our pets. And sometimes we swear we know what they are thinking. But one place communication can be more difficult is when a pet dies. It’s really hard on us, and especially hard for a child to lose his or her “best friend.”

I recently read a wonderful true story that I’d like to share with you. 4-year-old Meredith Scrivener wrote a letter to God (with her mom’s help, of course), about the loss of her 14-year-old dog, named Abbey . . .  and got a reply.

Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey, so she wanted to write a letter to God “so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her.” This is the letter she dictated:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? Abbey died yesterday and is with you in heaven. 

I miss her very much. I ‘m happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. 

I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. 

I really miss her. 

Love, Meredith 


The letter included a picture of Abbey & Meredith, and addressed to God/Heaven. A return address was put on, along with a lot of stamps “to get the letter all the way to heaven.”

A short while later, a mysterious package wrapped in gold paper arrived, addressed ‘To Meredith” in an unfamiliar hand. In the package was a book  called When a Pet Dies. And this following letter was taped to the inside cover of the book:

Dear Meredith, 

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. 

Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. 

Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I’m sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. 

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. 

What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. 

I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. 

By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love. 




There are so many heartwarming stories related to our pets. I’ve read about a cat that traveled hundreds of miles to find its way back home, and about dogs who have rescued their owners, waking them at night when there was a fire in the house. There are stories about lions, gorillas, whales, dolphins, and even a pig saving people.

But sometimes we wonder what our pets are thinking. Why is Ginger the cat or Emma the dog acting that way? Why have they gotten sick? What do they like/dislike? What information do they have for us? I know from the many animals I’ve lived with over the years—cats, dogs, horses, llamas, chickens, ducks, and geese, just to name a few—that they have their own wisdom that they are willing to share with us.

Certain people have the gift of being able to communicate with animals and to read the subtle clues they present. They can coax animals into opening up and revealing their emotional and/or physical problems. Think of the questions you would ask someone who could hear your animal’s thoughts. Would you ask what they were thinking or feeling?  Or why they’re behaving the way they are? Or maybe you would ask how are they doing since they transitioned to the other side?

If you have questions about your pet, just call the show and let’s talk!!


Sacred Sites Close to Home



Summer is here, and you want to do something a little different for your two-week vacation, or for a long weekend. You’d prefer to go somewhere like the pyramids in Egypt, or Stonehenge in England, or Machu Picchu in Peru and connect with the ancient spiritual energies, but . . . well, that’s just not going to happen this year. Never fear, you can visit sacred sites right here in the U.S., and you can probably find ones right near where you live.

We don’t often think about the places in the U.S. that are considered sacred, yet there are many. But first, what is a sacred site? Some are places that are held holy by certain religions or cultural traditions; some are geological features like mountains, waterfalls, or caves; some have man-made structures on them. What all of these sacred sites have in common is an energy field that surrounds and saturates them. The invisible field of energy at certain places can have the ability to heal the body and awaken the soul. When a pilgrim enters that place of power and connects to it through meditation, prayer, or ritual, he or she can link up with the power of the place. As a spiritual teacher and a seeker, I’ve often connected to Source at sacred sites.

So where in the U.S. might you go?

If you live in or near the Ohio River Valley, for example, you are in the heart of the great ceremonial mound-building culture that developed along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Over 10,000 mounds and earthworks once flourished in the area, built by ancestors of today’s American Indians. Many of these earthen hills are filled with burials and funerary objects, while other mounds were used mostly for ceremony. Of the many that once existed, 1,000 mounds are still visible. Others have been destroyed in the name of progress. You know, the “take Paradise, put up a parking lot” mentality. If you play golf at the Moundbuilders Country Club, for example, you could be teeing off on top of the Octagon Mound. But there are still fragments you can see of the Wright Earthworks or the Newark Earthworks. You can also visit the quarter-mile Great Serpent Mound (pictured) near Dayton, Ohio, the largest effigy mound in the U.S., which represents an underworld spirit being. The serpent’s head aligns to sunset on the day of the summer solstice.

In Illinois, the Cahokia Mounds are part of an ancient civilization of Mississippian peoples that was once one of the greatest cities in the world. Part of the complex, called the Monk’s Mound, is the largest manmade earthen mound in the Americas, with a base larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Many of the places that are still sacred to the Native peoples are in the West, such as Crater Lake, Oregon, sacred to the Klamath people whose ancestors witnessed the eruption that formed the lake; Blue Lake, NM, sacred to the Taos Pueblo; The Black Hills of South Dakota, especially Bear Butte, sacred to the Lakota Cheyenne and Kiowa (the Lakota called it the “Heart of All Things,” and an astronaut on the space shuttle who photographed it from orbit said the outline of the mountains looks like a human heart); for the Snoqualmie people, the massive Snoqualmie Falls waterfall is their spiritual focal point, with the mists from the base believed to connect heaven and earth.

If you can’t get out of the city, visit any of the magnificent cathedrals and temples that you may have passed a thousand times without entering—such as Trinity Church in Boston; the Baltimore Basilica; St Patrick’s, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (the largest cathedral in the world), or Saint Thomas Church in New York—and spend some time meditating there.

From Mount Denali in Alaska to the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, from the Great Mother Mound in Mississippi to the Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota, from Mt. Kilauea in Maui (the home of the volcano goddess Pele) to the Badlands of South Dakota, there are incredible places to visit that don’t need a passport to get to. All across the U.S., there are thousands of sites sacred to the indigenous tribes and nations of this country, each with their own mythology and imbued spirituality. So whether you are aware of it or not, you could be living and working on or walking or driving over sacred land.

Do some research in your local area to discover what once existed there, or what may possibly still be available as a sacred site you can visit. Go online to one of the lists of U.S. sacred sites to see some of the places available in your state. Or come to an energy healing or life coaching course (/events-workshops//) and learn to connect to the sacred site of your own heart.

Sacred sites are everywhere!


It’s Movie Time!

Out West, where I live when I’m not traveling, we’ve been having an unparalleled heat wave. Sneakers are actually melting in parts of the Southwest, and Death Valley (well-named) was at 130 degrees! Experts are predicting some of the hottest weather ever. (global warming in spades for those still doubtful folks) Here in southern California, I’ve found the best solution for getting through this record-breaking heat: go to the movies!

I totally enjoyed White House Down, an action-packed and completely absurd thriller about terrorists invading the Oval Office while the hero (played by Channing Tatum) saves the world single-handedly. It’s great fun watching “president” Jamie Foxx kick a terrorist and shout: “Get your hands off my Jordans!” It’s definitely a laugh-yourself-silly movie, perfect for getting your mind off the weather and whatever else may be keeping you down.

Plus, it’s worth taking a drive to your nearest indie theater to see Unfinished Song. It’s quite possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year (and I see a lot of movies)! Terrance Stamp stars as a difficult old man with a wife, the fantastic Vanessa Redgrave, with cancer who sings with a local group of retirees. Sounds depressing but isn’t: these two veteran actors in their 70’s are at their peak and turn in award worthy performances. Stamp plays with great subtle feeling a man who is so closed off to life that he is beyond numb, while Redgrave infuses her character with khumor and warmth. Break out the Kleenex and be prepared to really feel – all in all it’s a real heart-warmer of a movie and a celebration of life.

Heading out of the heat and into another indie movie, I saw Twenty Feet from Stardom, based on the true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends. I love movies with great music, and this is one of them! With a cast that includes Bette Midler, Lou Adler, Darlene Love, Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, and all the gal backup singers, how could you go wrong? It is also a poignant examination of the question of why some make it to stardom and others do not.

So kick back and enjoy your summer. And remember there’s nothing like an air-conditioned theatre on a hot afternoon. Hope to see you at the movies!