Foraging with a Pro

Exploring the Natural World with Alissa Allen

Have you ever wanted to feel more connected to the natural world around you? Have you ever found yourself on a hike wondering what tree you were looking at or whether or not a berry was edible? We are so blessed here in the Pacific Northwest to be surrounded by the wonders of nature. Most of which we know little to nothing about. Alissa Allen is aiming to change all that. 

Connecting With Nature

I had the opportunity to go for a walk in the woods with Alissa over the weekend. Her energy is welcoming and calm and there is a sense of wonder that fills the space. As we begin our short hike through Flaming Geyser State Park she immediately starts pointing out all the wonders that lay at our feet. Fields of Nettles, the first of the season’s Salmonberries, and patches of ground filled with Cottonwood. In the two hours we spent exploring Alissa was able to point out about a dozen varieties of plants and trees and their healing, or medicinal properties. 

Alissa shared with me that she grew up knowing this stuff. Her Mom taught her as a little girl and she’s never stopped discovering in the woods. In fact, she’s made a career out of it. Her love of the great outdoors guided her toward teaching about regional mushrooms and lichen dye palettes. She founded the group Mycopigments and teaches the skill of mushroom and lichen dyeing to fiber arts and mushroom enthusiasts all over the world.

Alissa’s has been featured in publications for both fiber artists and mushroom lovers alike. She discovered this passion in her 20’s and she continues to offer information workshops today. Her foraging has brought her all around the world, including Yosemite where she discovered a new mushroom species. The fungus is named after her: Pouzarella alissae. How totally cool is that.

Alissa is on a mission to inspire people to engage more deeply with nature. This is why I have chosen her to be the opening guest in this season’s Breathe in Nature Series. A series of outdoor adventures geared towards connecting with our breath and nature. Alissa will be joining me on Sunday, April 10th at 9am for the first of 6 adventures. 

Here’s what Alissa has to say about it… 

Wild harvest for a happy heart

Come take a peaceful stroll through the riverside woodland as we slowly take in the natural beauty that surrounds us. Engage all of your senses with the sights, sounds, and fragrances of the forest.

We will talk about forest ecology, healthy habitats, ethical harvest, foraging safety, identification, and processing our finds for use.

You’ll take home recipes for nettle soup, dandelion pickles, balm of Gilead, and more!

Nettles Unmistakable by their leaf shape, prickly appearance, and ability to elicit a painful sting, nettles are one of the most nutritious plant foods found in the spring. Their fiery mechanism is quickly neutralized with bruising and or cooking, which renders them a harmless, luscious green vegetable. Nettles make a comforting emerald soup, a distinctive pesto, and they can be used as a delightful substitute in any recipe that calls for spinach. They are high in iron and other minerals and nutritive when used as tea. 

Balm of Gilead Cottonwood resin is the fragrance of spring. We will be on the lookout for dropped catkins to make our own oil infusion. This oil can be made into a salve, used as a soothing massage oil, or worn as a subtle yet intoxicating natural perfume.

Dandelion with their cheerful yellow glow and friendly association with bees, dandelion flowers are harbingers of warmer days to come. In April, their tightly packed buds are just starting to unfurl. We will look for these hidden gold nuggets for making lacto-fermented pickles. Each chewy bud is a little flavor bomb, packed with vitamins and probiotics – a delectable pickley treat! 

We hope to fill our bags with other tasty nibbles such as spicy watercress, fiddlehead ferns, Japanese knotweed shoots, chickweed, minors lettuce, and more. There are so many wonderful morsels to be collected in the spring months!

Join the Fun

After Alissa, we will be joined by Jill Matterns for a Lunar Eclipse Gong Bath on the full moon of Sunday, May 15th. 

Head over the Breathe in Nature to hear about all the awesome upcoming adventures and to join before it’s too late. 

What Does Embodiment Mean, and Why Is It Essential to Our Happiness?

Breathe Deep to Let Your True Essence Shine

As you grow in your mindfulness practice you probably hear the word embodiment thrown around. But what does it mean? And why is it essential to our happiness?

For as much of a body-obsessed culture that we live in, we actually spend very little time in our bodies. We have cut ourselves off at the neck, using only our thoughts and bouts of pain or pleasure to feel into our bodies. We let our minds take the wheel and drown ourselves in images and data of what the outside world has determined we should look and feel. We have left the joy of feeling our bodies at the door. 

For many women, this cut-off begins around puberty or earlier as we have been trained to see the images of women that represent something we are not. This kind of body dysmorphia leaves us depressed and we hide our bodies for fear of rejection. We learn about pleasure from movies and TV so we can “perform” for the boys. 

We have trauma and abuse from our society all with an underlined virtue in the importance of being sexy for our lives to matter. 

Camille Rainville wrote a moving poem, “Be a Lady They Said” in 2017 that two years later became one of the most heart-wrenchingly profound pieces of art I’ve ever watched about what it means to be a woman. 

Unfortunately, men are falling into this trauma more and more as pressure to look a certain way increases while our lifestyles become more relaxed. We are busy, and sitting, and traveling in automobiles to get everywhere we go. We have our food and everything else delivered so we can stay home and dump more and more data into our minds about the world around us and our place in it. 

This modern lifestyle is super convenient. It’s convenient for all the companies out there who use their time and energy to invest you in them. To help you feel alone, like an outsider, and in need of what they offer. Whether it be a pill, or simply your attention, the goal is to keep you in your head and in mercy to them. 

Breathe into your Body

One of the easiest ways to start feeling your body is through breathwork. You’ve heard it a million times: Just Breathe. And our bodies are craving it, but our mind is in control and doesn’t see the point.

So let’s do it together now.

  • Take a nice deep inhale through your nose
  • Exhale with a sigh
  • Do it again.
  • Now close your eyes and inhale one more time, and feel the breath rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. 

Feels good right?

  • Continue to breathe consciously like this. 
  • Feel the air move into your belly on the inhale and notice the subtlety of movement as you exhale.
  • Continue with this feeling. 
  • Follow your breath 
  • With each exhale find yourself relaxing through your shoulders, your jaw, your belly. 
  • Perhaps even placing one or both hands over your heart and just being present in this moment.

If you are taking time to do this, even as you read, you are probably noticing a feeling of ease come over you. You may notice your mind has slowed and there is a sense of joy and connection within your body. 

This is how the embodiment experience begins. It begins with slowing down and becoming aware.

Awareness

The first time I did a breathwork session my entire face was tingling and my hands morphed up into claws. I was numb and completely vulnerable. Once the hour-long session ended I realized I had streams of water flowing from my eyes and I was feeling such a powerful release of energy and emotion that I didn’t understand what the hell had just happened. 

The only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to feel more. 

At the time I didn’t understand what was happening or what embodiment meant, but I started to see the power breath was bringing into my body. Every time I consciously started to breathe, and let the breath guide me into my body, I felt more open and expansive. I started to reconnect to dormant information within my body and gradually I have been able to release that stagnant energy out of my body using my breath. 

We store emotion, hurt, trauma, and feelings of shame in the body. We bury it within us and then cut off access to feeling it because it feels too painful. We lose that connection and rationalize it through our thoughts. 

When we talk about embodiment it’s not really a question of what you’re thinking, but where you’re thinking. 

Inner Intuition

With so much information being thrown around daily it’s hard to keep up and decipher truth from deception. The media is doing a great job of telling us what we need or don’t need, what’s important or unimportant, whom we should hate and whom we should adore. All we need is that seed to be planted for an idea to take on a life of its own. 

Breathwork helps us travel inward. It helps us take pause in the questions of the day so we can tap into our inner intuition and start deciding for ourselves what feels right in our bodies. 

Once our body is engaged we begin to feel into situations in our lives instead of analyzing them. We begin to grow up feeling more confident and in control of our body and thus our emotions. 

Embodying our perfectly imperfect bodies helps us to stand confidently when life feels hard and our insecurities are revealed. 

Taking ownership of your body is a huge step. Taking ownership means you are ready to breathe into the pain and air out old emotions and trauma. It means you are going to deal with uncomfortable emotions, people, and situations in the moment. It means becoming whole. Dancing in the rain, feeling the cold breeze hit your back, moving your body in new and challenging ways, and allowing yourself to illuminate from the inside out. 

Embodiment asks you to breathe into the spaces you’ve covered up early in your development and allow room to shift and move through that discomfort. Mindfulness is a daily practice and body awareness asks us to join this daily practice to listen, to observe, to notice. Your breath is your anchor. It’s the portal from the outer world to your inner experience. Whole-body living is connecting your breath to your mind in a way that opens you. In a way that helps you feel alive, rested, and in control of your life and your experience. 

The outside world will always find ways to showcase what is wrong with you and what you need to be doing. Embodiment is feeling into which of those messages are right for you and which you can throw by the wayside.

As you walk this path that is your life you will be continuously challenged and questioned about your choices. How you decide to show up and live is all about how you embody those choices. Anchor into your breath, feel stillness from deep within and walk confidently towards your true potential. 

***If you are interested in going deeper on a journey into connecting with your breath, check out my online course, Breath Mindset, and begin your embodiment journey today. 

Don’t Let Bottled Up Anger Seep Into Your Body and Explode

The Importance of Letting Anger Go

Do you ever wake up angry?

Like really angry, and without any real reason? Then everything you do seems to attract a cascade of situations that keep you boiling up inside?

Or maybe you do have a reason. Something is going on in your life that you can’t seem to get beyond. Or perhaps it’s a combo. I mean there is a lot going on in this chaotic muddled world and it’s easy to find something to be angry about. 

That was me this morning. I woke up irritable. It was pouring down rain, gloomy, and I found myself stuck behind the slowest drivers on the road no matter which lane I chose. I arrived for my morning swim late and the pool was already full. I took time to stretch and breathe so I could assess which lane to approach. I decided on the lane with one lady who promptly told me that she felt uncomfortable sharing her lane and to choose another. 

I was taken aback. In all my years of swimming, I have only once been told to leave a swim lane, and that was from an old lady we revered to as “the wart” when I was 12 years old. I felt rejected, attacked, and caught off guard. So I did what any kind, civil, caring adult would do; I smiled, said okay, and moved into the next lane over. 

I proceeded to swim with a certain amount of aggression. How dare she! Who does she think she is? I grew up at this pool and I’m here all the time! Swimmers aren’t nasty people! Does she think I’m gonna slow her down? I’ll show her who’s slow. 

And that is how the next hour of my life went: Angry swimming because someone didn’t want to share their lane. 

Ask Yourself: Can I Let This Go?

As I was changing, more relaxed, I started to realize how irrational I was being. I don’t know this lady. We are still in a COVID situation. She might have special needs or feel anxious to have another swimmer in the lane. She has left the pool, the situation (was it even a situation?) is over yet I keep rumbling on in my head. 

How silly, I thought, because I know one thing for certain, and that is that whatever her issue was it has nothing to do with me. 

You’ve done this, right?

Instead of just moving along from a casual encounter you start in on the situation. Instead of rationalizing that this has nothing to do with you, your ego decides to have a field day full of sweet revenge for a stranger who said or did something that didn’t sit right. 

But because you are a caring individual you harbor that shit. 

You stuff it all in because you don’t want to… 

  • seem rude
  • be rejected
  • feel judged or
  • get singled out

You Are Not Alone

We’ve all felt some version of this and most of the time it’s subconscious. Often we might not realize these feelings until later when we can see the whole situation.

Instead, we just let things simmer because they seem small or irrational or not worth making a scene.

This is the problem: when we don’t process the anger we feel, we carry it around in our bodies.

We stuff it down because we are nice people and anger is not an option.  

Whether you picked these thoughts up from your family or school or life experience, we all know how terrible it feels to be singled out in ways that make us feel threatened, uncomfortable, or irrationally unimportant. We understand the consequences and know how harmful anger can be. This makes our feelings of anger incredibly tricky.

We suppress and suppress and let outside beliefs and values bury into our minds. We don’t want to offend or be challenged by someone else. But by not speaking up or standing up and voicing your opinions you are devaluing your own right to be seen and heard. Our voice becomes smaller and smaller, then one day you are at the pool and let a silly comment ruin your workout. 

Anger is a completely normal emotion. A very powerful one and one that we have been told is bad. Although unmanaged anger is bad, the emotion itself is a signal that something is off. Typically it reflects something in your outer world not aligning with a belief you have about how the world is supposed to be. 

Next time instead of allowing your ego to run wild and take complete power over you when you feel anger, try stepping back and taking a couple of deep mindful breaths. You can choose to not actively express your thoughts, but you may also realize it’s not necessary for any of these strong emotions to play out a tirade of finger-pointing either. 

It’s time to break the anger patterns within you.

  • It’s time to be brave and own your anger so you can process through it.
  • It’s time to ask why you get wrapped up in thoughts of hate and aggression.
  • It’s time to start sharing our stories and thoughts about why we bury these difficult emotions.
  • It’s time to let go of the potential judgment of someone else.
  • It’s time to start directing our minds in a more compassionate arena of thought.
  • It’s time to understand that you are worthy of being seen and heard.

It’s time to toss suppressed anger into the inferno and shed yourself of shame. 

When you choose to not deal with anger it waits under the surface for an opportunity to explode. Learning to deal with anger in a healthy way shows maturity. It can be challenging, but at the end of the day anger keeps us small and limits our power and purpose. 

Breathwork is my go-to way of dealing with anger. Just like hitting the gym is a powerful way to let that anger go, so is breathwork. 

Powerful, energizing breath practices can help amp you up so you can settle down, or calming breath practices to give you pause between your thoughts. 

Two powerful breath practices for helping alleviate anger are Ego Eradicator and 4-7-8 method of breathing. 

Ego Eradicator

Ego Eradicator is a version of Breath of Fire: A rapid exhale way of breathing that simulates the sound and movement of a sneeze. The exhale is forced out while the inhale happens naturally without thought. This works wonders for calming anger and ego issues that arise. 

  • This is performed sitting with your arms straight up and out at a 60-degree angle. 
  • Fingers tucked into the pads of your hand and thumbs raise. 

The trick here is to forcibly and rapidly exhale for three minutes while keeping your elbows straight and arms firm at that 60 degrees. 

Your focus either on your third eye point or open with a soft gaze down towards the tip of your nose. 

This breathing practice begins to feel like a meditation that you are forcefully breathing through. It helps clear the lungs of stagnant energy and opens the channels to your heart. This calms your mind and helps reduce thoughts and feelings of anger held in the body.

4-7-8 Method

When you are angry you’ll notice your breath becomes shallow and quick. When you notice this you can immediately calm yourself by slowing and deepening your breath. 

  • Start slowly by inhaling into your nose for three seconds
  • holding your breath for two seconds
  • then exhaling out the mouth for four seconds. 

This can feel challenging when your heart is beating fast and thoughts of anger fill your mind. This slow exaggeration of your breath is a great start. Once you have this down you can start to add a second to each: breathing in for four seconds, holding for 3, 4, 5, 6, up to 7 seconds, then exhaling for 5, 6, then 7, and 8 exhales. 

The ratio of 4-7-8 being the height of slowing and calming you down. This is a gradual way to ease out of anger. The key is to keep the focus on your breath. In through the nose, hold, then let the exhale be longer than the inhale and out the mouth. 

10 rounds of this and you will feel your muscles relax, your mind calm, and more in balance. 

Both techniques offer an opportunity to get out of your head and into nurturing the body. 

Your breath is a key component in self-regulating your nervous system. Anger comes from a place deeply rooted in self-preservation. It’s best to handle anger as quickly as possible. Instead of getting angry for being angry and starting a cycle of blame, try turning to your breath and see how quickly it can all turn around. 

I am always curious how these techniques work for others and love to hear your success stories. As a certified breath coach I am on a mission to help all breathe more deeply and with purpose. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my online course, Breath Mindset, and begin your breathing journey today. 

Take Massive Action to Live a Life You Love Living

Only with true authenticity can your abundance flow

We all have that friend whose life looks like a total dream. They have the family, the house, the amazing job and from the outside, you’d say they have it all. But after spending an afternoon with them you realize that they feel empty or aimless in their journey. They have checked off all the boxes but something is missing and it’s leaving them wanting more. 

Maybe this is a friend, or perhaps it’s you. 

A dear friend of mine has lived a rich and full life despite being to hell and back. He’s maintained a truly healthy outlook and the wisdom he holds can seriously change the trajectory of many young men’s lives. He’s passionate and he has an incredible story about overcoming personal demons and breaking old patterns. Whenever we get together he tells me he wants to write a book, but he’s never put pen to paper. 

The reason?

He’s worried about what his family will think. He’s worried about the backlash from people he loves for being open and honest about his journey. He has within him the power to help and mentor thousands and he knows it, but he’s too afraid of being seen. 

Sound like someone you know? 

So many of us struggle with similar challenges. Passionate people who are afraid of their own truth. People live lives that look good on paper while their true identity lies dormant inside. 

I know people who have far more money, influence, resources, and experience than myself who say they wish they could do what I do. Well, maybe not be a breath coach, but live life on their own terms. And they absolutely can! But instead they…

  • Stay stuck at a job for the money or benefits even though they have plenty to get by while building their dream career. 
  • Buy a huge home in the suburbs then drive 2 hours to and from work every day and never get to enjoy it.
  • Commit to an unhealthy relationship because they’ve been with the person so long it’s easier than separating.

We’ve all struggled with letting our true nature shine through in order to “keep the peace. But here’s my question to you…

Do you honestly believe that true abundance flows to someone who is not living in line with who they truly are?

You must be willing to share and embrace the uncomfortableness of who and what you are in order to truly shine and for abundance to flow. 

You can live your whole life doing everything right and by the book, but if it doesn’t align with who you are on the inside then you will feel empty.

You will walk through your everyday life feeling like something is missing and this will leave you bitter with regret. 

But there is a way to turn it all around. 

Start taking massive action. You can’t think yourself out of a mindset or limiting belief, you must act. Move! Get that energy flowing. Let it be messy, let it be uncomfortable, let it be full of raw emotion and mystery, just start taking action. Don’t get stuck in the “one day” mentality. 

  • Start writing one page of that book
  • Buy the school bus and start converting it. (seriously I want a skoolie)
  • Make a budget for a year off work to pursue your dreams
  • Start sewing that jacket
  • Create space for yoga in your home
  • Invest in that workshop

The fastest way to push out the stagnant air is to push yourself into action! Your future life is waiting for you on the other side. And that new life comes with true abundance. 

Stop living the dreams of your parents. Stop striving for goals you aren’t invested in. Start doing things that align you with your dream life. Get that momentum going.

And here is where my online course, Breath Mindset can help. 

  • Carving out time each day to create space in your head to see clearly. 
  • Helping you to put your gifts into action towards a life worthy of you. 
  • A program that helps hold you accountable for your goals and sees you through to the finish line. 
  • The power of breathwork aligned with a healthy mindset can transform your life into an abundant one. 

Although people are joining our online community all the time, the beginning of the month is ideal because every Monday I show up and demo the weekly breathing with a group of members all dedicated to helping each other succeed. 

You have something inside you that is longing to get out, you just need tools to help you stand in your power and speak your truth. Breath Mindset is a simple, not easy, way to help you break free from the traps of scarcity in your mind and guide you forward into abundance beyond comparison in your life. 

So what do you say? Are you ready for real change? Then join me, and I’ll see you on the inside.