Home is in the garden – CHTA

Below you’ll find select slides from my presentation today with the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association’s annual conference. I encourage you to take some time, in particular, with the “mindful inquiry” invitations – and consider returning to them regularly, if they prove useful.

A mindful eating treat

There’s not a lot more I can say about this essay by Steve Edwards from Sun magazine. Just read it. So delicious. What’s moved you, lately?

Happy September, friends.


Coming home to food

I wrote the following article for the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association’s summer newsletter, in anticipation of my presention on Day 1 of their upcoming annual conference – Branching Out: Nurturing Connections and Community, on September 16-18, 2021. This year’s online conference features topics ranging from sensory engagement with nature to vertical farming, guided nature walks, wildlife photography, and indigenous healing tools. It’s an amazing line-up! I hope some of you can join us.

Home is in the garden: Starting over during unprecedented times

We all long for connection, whether we spend our lives deeply rooted or like to spread our wings. Join Dawnn in a multimedia journey as she highlights personal and professional connections to edible gardens, food justice, and the rapidly evolving field of healthcare. We’ll also explore the nature of home – where it is, what it looks like, and how true belonging grows over time. https://www.chta.ca/2021-presenters

CHTA’s mission is “to promote the use and awareness of horticulture as a therapeutic modality.” Learn more about this volunteer-led organization, receive updates on horticultural therapy news, or register for the conference by visiting the CHTA website.

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Greening our mental “meal”

Throughout my career as a clinical psychologist, I’ve attended trainings led by neuroscientist Dr. Dan Siegel, MD, who is well known in the popular media for his books on parenting and mindfulness. I encourage you to check out his current work in collaboration with leaders like Dr. Sara`King and the embodied social justice movement, as well.

I’ve long been fascinated by the “healthy mind platter,” especially as I’ve moved toward a behavioral health consultation model. This framework was introduced by Dr. Siegel and his colleague David Rock around the time that the USDA transitioned from the food pyramid to My Plate, and includes a set of seven empirically-supported activities – sleep time, playtime, time-in, downtime, connecting time, physical time, and focus time, all part of a well-balanced “mental diet” designed to optimize mind/body health.

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Healing through story

Every time we encounter a winding, country road, our family is transported back to the home we left. The land we loved. And the Tuesday morning when a driver fell asleep at the wheel, a mile from our house. And everything changed.

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The time is…now

There’s a poem that’s been running through my mind for a while. It deeply resonated as soon as I discovered it in the poet William Stafford’s collected works, many years ago; I immediately bookmarked the page.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

“The Way It Is,” by William Stafford (1914 – 1993)

What does these words mean to you? Some have offered similar opportunities for reflection.

As I read these words aloud again and again, I feel gently pulled by the unfolding, unyielding nature of time, and by the passions I’ve been too timidly cultivating for many years of my life.

“While you hold it you can’t get lost.” What guides, steadies, or grounds you?

Savoring water for wellness

In this newest Mindfulness in Nature guided video, we’ll explore our experiences with water and observe opportunities to savor this resource, as a way to soothe and enhance mind/body health.

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S is for summer (and savoring)

In previous posts, I’ve discussed the practice of savoring, which has roots within both the mindfulness and positive psychology fields. Savoring is available to everyone. We can savor memories of experiences from the past, bring mindful attention to pleasurable current experiences, and anticipate those headed our way in the future.

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Mindful writing with nature

How are you like a tree? A mountain? An ocean? What nourishes your soil? How do you know when you are depleted or in need of replenishment? Which seeds have you intentionally sowed in your lifetime – and which do you still long to grow?

Join Dr. Dawnn McWatters (licensed psychologist, community educator, and nature advocate) as she offers brief presentations on topics related to edible gardening and therapeutic horticulture, and guides class participants through a mindful writing exercise – cultivating curiosity, awareness, and compassion, with the support of nature-based prompts. While not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment, nature exposure, mindfulness, and expressive writing have been shown to contribute positively to mind/body health.

Through Winter 2021, Mindful Writing in Nature sessions will be offered on the 3rd Monday of each month. Pre-registration is required. Once you sign up for a class session, you should receive the Zoom link details within 24 hours. And look for “sneak peeks” beginning in September 2021 as Dawnn features live IG “bites” that highlight seasonal topics.

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