Coming back to myself with nature

By Katie Cassidy

The stress is building and it feels like I’m in water up to my chin.  ‘I’m a good swimmer’ I tell myself, ‘I can handle this’. There are moments when it feels manageable. There are even hours or days where everything feels ok. And then…one more thing causes the water to rise just a few more inches and I find myself under water, overwhelmed and panicking.  I’m unable to catch my breath.  I’m unable to show up for myself or anyone else.  It sounds silly now, but it took me until my 40s to name this sensation…anxiety. 

What strategies do you have to stay emotionally and energetically resourced these days?  What are you doing to charge your batteries?  I want to be able to show up for the things that matter to me in life.  I want to take a deep breath and be there to support loved ones, to be an active member of my community, to take actions in support of racial justice and democracy. It turns out I can’t really do any of that if I am under water.  

Being outside and surrounded by nature is something that I have found to be so nourishing to my heart and mind. Fortunately, we live in a place with incredible access to nature. Whether it’s the backcountry or your backyard, the PNW is a beautiful place to live.  I find that spending time in the woods or near water fills me up like nothing else. Of course, I also love my yoga and meditation practices and come back to them to center each day.  But sometimes I just need to immerse myself in nature to truly come back to myself.  

Having an activity that grounds me in the moment and focuses my awareness and attention is very soothing to my nervous system. Noticing the phases of the moon, marking the changing of the seasons, identifying plants and birds, exploring tide pools, keeping nature journals and drawing plants –  all of these activities help me to feel more connected to our natural environment. They help me to feel more grounded and remind me that I am also part of the natural world. 

Have you heard of Forest Bathing? Check out this story on NPR: Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood

“…researchers were able to document a decrease in blood pressure among forest bathers. As people begin to relax, parasympathetic nerve activity increases — which can lead to a drop in blood pressure.”

If you have found yourself also underwater and have a practice you find helpful, please consider sharing. The more we are able to support each other in our groundedness, the more we can come together. 

May we all find ways to shine light into the darkness, and for the light of love to shine out into the world.  OM Lokah Samasta Sukino Bhavantu.  May all beings know peace and happiness. 


“It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” 

– MARY OLIVER

Katie Cassidy is our intrepid Studio Manager, and is the secret sauce to making the studio run. When she’s not fielding emails or ticking off one of her infamous checklists, you can find her boating around the Salish Sea, practicing yoga in her beautiful backyard, or doting on her grey tabby, Yakul.

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