What a difference a week can make! Our world is constantly changing and as always, our lives are filled with ups and downs. Delicious and painful impermanence. Such a dialectic. As we greet one other and each moment, a warm helping of mindful awareness and self-compassion goes a long way.
A reminder from last week’s digest about how I’m loosely organizing these posts into three categories (HEAL, GROW, and SAVOR), to align content with The SAVOR Project’s mission:
Please keep in mind, as always, that you can save these digests for a later time because they’ll often contain a dizzying array of resources – kind of like a big meal you can’t expect to eat all at once, so save some of what follows for “leftovers,” to be enjoyed at your own pace.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the impact of trauma, as it relates to mind/body health and our responses (individually and collectively) to the crises unfolding in our world. In a conversation with a psychologist colleague recently, we discussed how the research on ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) is gradually making its way throughout the field of healthcare and also how our understanding of what constitutes an “adverse” experience continues to evolve, to include intergenerational poverty and systemic racism. If you haven’t viewed this TED talk video by pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who is now the Surgeon General of California, I’d recommend it:
More on this topic later, but here’s yet another research article on the healing benefits of nature for war veterans and other trauma survivors. There’s a reason why I’ve grativated increasingly to the fields of horticultural therapy and ecotherapy as I’ve matured in my career as a clinical psychologist.
A few tips as we continue to navigate multiple stressors and daily responsibilities at work, school, and/or at home – which for some of us, may not be distinct arenas anymore:
So if you happen to see me in a Seattle-area park and I’m hugging a tree, you’ll know why. Feel free to join me!
Speaking of connecting with nature, check out this article by Sebene Selassie in November’s Mindful Magazine, about mindfulness, joy, and connecting with the elements of the earth.
In case you missed Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at the presidential inauguration, some additional excellence to brighten your day. Remember that art saves lives. How can you nourish yourself through creative expression or by receiving the gift of art, including that found in nature?
An interesting essay published under the title “These Four Walls: Living Indoors,” published in The New Yorker (September 2020).
On my Instagram account, I’ve been posting this past week about healthy soil and how I’m taking a deeper dive into soil science. This journey will be lifelong, for sure, and I can only take in so much information these days, but every little bit of knowledge “amendment” is much appreciated. I also found this family-friendly resource on the many benefits of playing in the dirt.
A charming poem about dirt – excerpt below:
“Dear dirt, I am sorry I slighted you,
I thought that you were only the background
for the leading characters—the plants
and animals and human animals.
It’s as if I had loved only the stars
and not the sky which gave them space
in which to shine…”by Sharon Olds, Ode to Dirt. Follow this link to hear the poet read aloud.
Lastly, I’ve been keeping a more intentional tally of “savoring” moments – experiences in which I’m mindfully aware of joy or pleasure, arising in the present moment. Such examples include:
Opportunities for joy, gratitude, connection, and pleasure abound. I don’t say this lightly, and we, too, have faced some dark days in our household. But I savor the moments that wake me up to the reality that I’m still alive (such a precious gift, especially this year!); that I can connect with nature in its various forms, even in my densely populated urban setting; and that, always, I have options for how I greet each moment.
Can you form the intention to savor one pleasurable experience per day, for just a few seconds? It might be your breath, the feeling of warmth from your socks, the bit of daylight streaming through a window, the wet nose of a beloved pet. Look around you, and look within.
Dr. Dawnn McWatters, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist (WA), adult educator, and long-time edible gardener. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington, with her transracial, interfaith family, mountain dog and tuxedo cat, and a wild, constantly changing assortment of plants.