Breathwork for Depression and Anxiety Relief 

Which is the best breathing practice for you?

Have you ever found yourself spiraling into a bout of depression? Or found your head spinning out of control about one thousand things you have zero control over? It’s a normal Tuesday afternoon and suddenly you find yourself paralyzed with negative mind-chatter preventing you from being of any use to yourself or others. 

It’s so draining!!! But you can’t stop. The stories in your head are locking you into another spell of self-doubt and pity and you can’t find your way off this runaway train. 

There is a way to help, and you already have full access to it; it’s your breath. The trick is learning the right ways to utilize it for your best outcomes. 

Breathwork is amazing because it works for everybody. However, not all breathing patterns are right for everybody. 

There are literally hundreds of breathing patterns and ways to manipulate this very natural flow of energy. The best breath practice for you will vary and most likely change over time. As a general guide, there are 3 things you should look at when you decide to use breathwork as a way to relieve the stress factor associated with depression and anxiety. 

  1. Identifying your triggers
  2. Identifying your personal coping mechanisms
  3. Identifying what breathing practices feel most innately supportive to your nervous system

Taking a close look at these 3 things can help you find a starting point that will set you up for success in your breathing practices. The harder part is continuously showing up daily to do the breathwork. Breathwork is similar to meditation as it is developed over time and the more you show up, especially on the days you’d rather not, the closer you come to breaking barriers in your life that have previously held you back and kept you stuck.

Identifying your triggers

Triggers are those things in our environment that send our brains into survival mode. When you are having an emotional reaction to something or someone that feels out of your control or induces a strong desire to harm yourself or others you’re being triggered. If you have been through any trauma, then you understand how any reminder of that event triggers an emotional reaction that feels like you are experiencing the event all over again. 

As you start to identify your triggers you need to ask yourself if something is truly a trigger or if you are just uncomfortable, which would fall more under the lines of comfort zone barriers. Verywellmind.com has a great article that takes a closer look at triggers and what they mean that I found helpful. 

Not only will identifying your triggers be helpful for your personal growth, it is also the first step in narrowing the breath practices best suited for you. How you cope with these triggers is the next identifier to narrow even more. 

Identifying your personal coping mechanisms

Throughout your life, you have learned different strategies to help protect yourself when you sense danger. When your triggers signal the alarm your brain immediately starts putting things into play designed to keep you safe. Often these mechanisms are outdated and end up holding you back from growth. In turn, you end up full of unnecessary anxiety or become depressed. 

Survival mode looks different for everyone so it’s important to get to know how you cope. 

When you feel triggers do you…

  • Get angry and start moving into an aggressive state? 
  • Get frustrated and feel completely overwhelmed?
  • Fall into self-loathing and allow the thoughts of worthlessness to set in?
  • Feel hopeless and fall into destructive behavior?
  • Put on a happy face and bury all the pain until you feel like you might burst?
  • Feel victimized and look for someone else to blame?

Odds are you do one or many of these things. Other less common coping mechanisms might look like…

  • Netflix binging
  • Over or under eating
  • Procrastination
  • Excessive cleaning
  • Not getting out of bed

There are a ton of reasons we resort back to our patterns, and it stems from our reptilian brain working in survival mode. Becoming aware of how you cope when things feel out of control will give you a starting line for your breath journey. 

Breathwork is designed to support you

To simplify, when you get triggered your emotional center either rises to a head spin of thoughts and you get anxious, or you collapse, and start self-isolating, resulting in a more depressed outlook. 

When you invite breathwork to the table as a healthy way to cope and break free from these patterns, you will find that what works best for a more anxious system is different than what works best for a depressed system. Gauging on where you currently stand will be helpful. 

  • Do you hang out more in the fight or flight realm? 
  • Or the rest and recover realm?

Let’s take a look at both.

Fight or Flight

If you are someone who is easily anxious then we are talking about the Sympathetic Nervous System, or your fight or flight response system. The better place to start breathing is with more relaxed patterns. These calming practices help to guide your nervous system out of chaos and into a more relaxed or balanced state. 

For instance, if you are someone who copes by getting angry or gets overly anxious, then a more calming breath practice like 4-7-8 or 5×5 breathing would be more productive practice than something like circular breathing or breath of fire where you are consciously speeding up your breath. 

Allowing your exhales to be longer than your inhales slows down the mind and brings you out of panic and into balance. Balancing breathwork is always a great go-to when feeling triggers. Equal parts of inhales and exhales help both sides of the spectrum find balance. 5×5 breathing or 3-part breathing are both great starting points. 

Rest & Recover

The other side of this coin is those who carry a more depressed nervous system and lean towards the rest and recover or Parasympathetic Nervous System. Those who lose all energy when triggered. More active breathwork that brings the energy up will be the more effective way to start. Breathwork that activates the system like bellows breath that uses your stomach as a way to pump air quickly in and out, as well as more holotropic practices that double your breathing rate. Practice breathwork that really drives up your body’s energy and activates your nervous system. 

Bringing your energy levels up is going to be an important part of breaking patterns. You want to activate the heart by increasing the air and blood flow moving through it. This helps release feelings of lethargy. 

Breathwork is about learning how to live a healthy life by utilizing the power of your breath. Something we all have access to and with practice can more actively control. 

Any mindfulness practice comes with a certain amount of allowance. If you want change, you have to do something different, and this is where people get stuck. 

This is not an overnight pill out of anxiety or depression. Breathwork is a tool to add to your box to keep you mentally sound when you feel triggered and find yourself prone to certain unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

When you are interested in learning more and want a breath coach to keep you accountable, then check out Breath Mindset, my 4-week online breath course designed to help you breathe into a life you love. 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable with a Glacier Dip at Mount Rainier

Experience the Transformative Power of a Cold Plunge with Lynar DeLuca

When was the last time you treated yourself to a day at Mount Rainier? The lustrous mountain that can be seen from almost all points of King County. We live so close, yet can go years without a visit. Join Lynar DeLuca of The Breath Academy, and myself, for a day of exploring the Naches Loop Trail with an added Glacier dip down at Dewey Lake. A day that won’t soon be forgotten. 

There is a reason that this is one of the most popular trails on Mount Rainer: 

  • The stunning views
  • The light elevation gain
  • Wildflowers galore
  • Easily accessible

Every time I find myself here I am captured by the beauty of Tahoma. A stunning reminder of this place we call home and a humbling reminder of how small we really are. 

When you join us on Sunday, August 14th, you too will experience this stunning hike, as well as the added bonus of a trip down to Dewey Lake.

Dewey Lake

This is the most challenging part of the trail and almost doubles the length of the hike from 3.2 to 6 miles in total. The added elevation gain keeps most explorers from traveling down. 

Not us! 

This is the fun part, not to mention the cooling-off part. 

Because we will be starting early, to beat the crowds and enjoy the peaceful morning, we will miss the midday heat. That being said, the trail does have some stretches of full sunshine. Proper sun protection should be considered as well as sturdy hiking shoes for the descent, and climb from the Lake. The summer sun also brings one other element…

Mosquitos!

Lynar and I decided to do a trial run of the event this past week and found to our chagrin that the lake hosted an abundance of tiny (and not so tiny) bloodsuckers. This did not stop us from enjoying our time at the lake, but it did put a damper on our breathwork. Because of this we strongly recommend a mosquito hood for protection as well as lightweight long sleeves and long pant attire. 

Time To Take The Plunge!

Once at the lake the fun begins! Well, I mean besides the army of mosquitos. The hot August sun has warmed this lake, but the melting snow keeps it at a refreshingly cool temp.

Here in this scenic retreat, you will be guided through some circular breathwork. Preparing your mind and body for the refreshing, cold glacier waters.

The breathwork will help to calm your nerves as your adrenaline begins to rise. After which you will have an opportunity to get your suits on, (yes, there will be a private changing space), and take a horse stance with us in the shallow end. As your feet take in the cold your mind will settle into focus. 

Now you are ready to take the plunge. 

Lynar is a 200-hr Certified Yoga Teacher and Breath Coach who has a passion for cold exposure and sharing its incredible benefits with other people. She has been practicing cold dips since moving to Washington almost 15 years ago and has been practicing breathwork for 5 years. Various breath practices have helped her relieve stress and anxiety, while cold exposure has helped her push past the limits of what the mind thinks is possible. 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! And your opportunity to get comfortable being uncomfortable. During your 2 minutes submerged in the lake, Lynar and I will be with you the whole time. Breathing, humming, focusing, and guiding you through. Allowing you the time and space to find your inner stillness and come out stronger on the other side. 

After everyone has had an opportunity to feel the power of the cold, we will dry off, get dressed and head back up to the main trail to be rewarded by panoramic views of the mountain. Together we will enjoy some snacks and good conversation before finishing off the loop and heading home. 

Breathe in Nature

If you are looking for something fun to do this August and want to stretch yourself in a powerful way then this is the adventure for you!

This is the 5th installment of the Breathe in Nature series and one that all the members have been looking forward to. There are only a few spots remaining and we would love for you to join us. 

Read more about Breathe in Nature here and join us before it’s too late.

30 Seconds to Better Confidence 

Simple Shifts that can lead to big changes

The biggest breakthrough in your life comes when you are feeling confident. It’s impossible to accomplish greatness when your confidence is low. It’s those times when you are not questioning and second guessing yourself that you start seeing all the blessings flow into your life. Why is that? What factors determine where your confidence is?

Most people struggle in this area, and it’s easy to understand why:

  • Economic uncertainty
  • Rising gas prices
  • Inflation

With so much uncertainty it’s easy to feel like our lives are spinning out of control. When things seem to be spiraling downward it can really shake your confidence.

All of these things happening in the world are very real and it’s no wonder collectively we are struggling. Why then do some people seem to thrive despite all the turmoil surrounding them?

It’s challenging to stay confident and self-assured when your outer world feels like a dumpster fire. But only if you are putting your faith in the outer world.

If you are stuck on the never ending roller coaster of outer world tragedy then you will never achieve true confidence. By harnessing the true power and confidence you hold inside, you will be able to turn on your confidence when you need it most. 

Making the Confidence Shift

Shifting your confidence takes work. We have spent years piling on many layers about who and what we are. We learn what is and isn’t okay from our parents, siblings, teachers, and community. Heck, I was told I had chicken legs by a kid in school whose name I can’t even remember! Yet it affected me so deeply that I didn’t show my legs for decades, and still brush off any compliment I’ve gotten about them as someone just being kind. Talk about a confidence buster. I have many I continue to work through.

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to start making the shift…

  • What are you doing that hijacks your confidence?
    • Gossiping
    • Watching the news
    • Scrolling social media
  • Do you ever find your mind wandering to all the possible negative outcomes?
    • Failure
    • Regret
    • Loss
  • Do you get caught up in the “What if’s” of life?
    • What if this doesn’t work out
    • What if they laugh at me
    • What if I lose everything

The good news is, if you’re thinking these thoughts it’s because you can see more for yourself than you currently have. You understand that some faith is required to take the next step and with faith comes confidence. 

Confidence > Doubt

When you are ready to step into a more fulfilled experience you are bound to be faced with all kinds of emotions. A battle begins to take place between confidence and doubt. And the one that wins is the one you feed. 

Anything worthwhile is going to bring up uncertainty because it’s outside your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. It shows that you do have confidence and on some level are toying with the idea of stepping into the unknown. 

This should bring up questions! The challenge is listening to how you answer those questions. Do you lean towards doubt? Or towards success?

So much of your success comes from the confidence you put behind your work. Asking questions is a great way to see where your confidence is so you can begin to navigate it towards growth. 

And you can do this in 30 seconds or less by focusing on these 3 things.

  1. Pay attention to your self-narrative

Begin to notice the stories you are playing in your head throughout the day. Notice your role in those stories. 

  • Are you a victim?
  • Are you kind?
  • Do you see yourself winning or losing?
  • How do you view others around you? As friend or foe?

How you see the world is how you see yourself

Your perspective on the things in your life shapes how you approach life. If you believe people are looking to hurt you or rip you off then that is what you will see. Likewise, if you see the universe as abundant that is what you will see. 

If you are feeling low on your confidence, take a look around and start to rewrite these stories. Catch yourself in the middle of a self-sabotaging narrative and ask yourself, “Is this helping me or hurting me?” And adjust it accordingly. Write yourself into a world that is supportive of you and you will begin to see evidence of that.

  1. Focus on what you’re good at

When looking to build your confidence it’s best to focus on what you already know you’re good at. Too often when faced with big challenges we start to focus on all the reasons why this is hard or why you can never be, have, or do whatever it is. Instead…

turn your focus toward the things you know you can do. 

When I opened my first business I was paralyzed by the taxes. I was certain I was going to mess everything up and end up owing my life in fees. I was so focused on it that other aspects of my business were taking a back seat and I found myself angry and thinking this isn’t what I want to do! Then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to. I could pay someone to do my taxes, and it was well worth it too. Not only did I know that my finances were being taken care of, but I didn’t have to stress, cry, and lose sleep over it. It allowed me space to focus on what I am really great at: sales, people, relationships. The things I knew I had down and the things that brought me joy and reminded me why I went into business for myself in the first place. 

Whatever you are working on it is essential to keep your head in the right mindset. When you are feeling good confidence will pour out of you.

So what are you really good at?

  1. Step away from negative conversation

When you engage in gossip or join the “This place sucks” crowd, you are fertilizing your brain for judgment. For no reason you feel superior, placing yourself and your life as much more worthy than that of another. 

This type of toxic behavior keeps you stuck in the energy of entitlement. Idle conversation is for those idle of mind. If you want to be more confident then it is imperative that you start walking away from toxic conversations. 

We have all done it; finding ourselves steeped in the good tea and enjoying it. Maybe even passing the tea along to another because it was so good. 

If this is you, the first step is to recognize it and then learn to keep your mouth shut when it is not your business to tell. Like all things, this is a practice, but the sooner you adopt it the sooner your inner confidence will shine. 

Confidence Comes from Within

Believe it or not, just talking yourself up, or setting out to achieve a new goal instantly boosts your confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Focus on what makes you great, and start moving with that in mind. 

Even if it feels odd at first, the quickest way to build your confidence is to practice being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. 

Life will continue to come at you with curveballs and unexpected adventures. It is up to how you choose to meet these inevitable outer circumstances that will determine a lot of how you see yourself in the world. 

A tool I use is breathwork. And in my 4-week online course, Breath Mindset, we dive into using your breath to build a better mindset and with it confidence to go boldly in the directions of your dreams. 

Going Against the Flow with Viloma Pranayama

Change Your Mental Patterns by Changing Your Breath Patterns

Pranayama is the yogi way of saying breath control. It comes from the root words prana, meaning life force or energy source, and yama, meaning to control. Put the two together and you get life energy control. It is also well established that your breath is the bridge between your inner and outer world. As we continue to link this further we begin to understand that if breath is your life energy that you can control and it moves between your internal world and your external world, then essentially you have the power to expand your prana to make purposeful changes in your life. 

Breathwork has become very popular these days, which is super cool, but it’s more than just learning how to manipulate the breath in different ways. 

Pranayama Breathwork is about enhancing your health, changing your energy levels, and finding balance in your mind. 

Viloma pranayama

Viloma means to go against the natural flow. This is a basic breathing technique designed to help you expand the breath cavity. It is done by interrupting the natural flow of breath consciously to cultivate control and awareness of being. 

Deliberate pauses are inserted into each round of breath. Not only does this technique help you to take deeper fuller breath, it also helps bring your mind into focus. Whenever you hold your breath, even for a second, your mind becomes hyper aware and all other thoughts take a back seat. These deliberate pauses put micro amounts of stress on the body to prepare you for more dynamic pranayama techniques. Many of which entail longer periods of breath retention and holds. 

This practice sets a solid foundation for your breathing practice. 

Any time you consciously manipulate your natural breathing pattern you need to be aware of potential side effects. Those who have hypertension or heart disease for instance, shouldn’t hold their pause in a Viloma practice for more than a second or two. If you have epilepsy, are pregnant, or have any health concern that demands attention, you should check with your health care provider before doing any breath holds longer than two to three seconds. 

As we go through the practice below, know that for our purposes here we will not be asking you to practice holds longer than 3 seconds. 

How to Practise Viloma Pranayama

Viloma Pranayama has three versions or stages. Each one builds upon the last. What makes Viloma unique is that the three versions can be done in one session as you build through the stages, or it can be practiced as three separate techniques. 

The three versions are…

  1. Viloma 1- Breath is interrupted on the inhalation
  2. Viloma 2 – Breath is interrupted on the exhalation
  3. Viloma 3 – The breath is interrupted on both the inhalation and the exhalation

Three-Part-Breathing is a helpful and simple technique to understand and have some practice in before attempting Viloma pranayama. The basics of 3-part-breathing is simply inhaling through your nose into your belly, out through your ribcage, and up into your chest. Then exhaling out the chest, through the ribcage, and emptying through the belly. Like an elevator, 

Inhale – Belly, Ribcage, Chest

Exhale – Chest, Ribcage, Belly

You can watch my youtube video here

Viloma 1

In the first stage, the breath is interrupted during the inhalation followed by a long smooth continuous exhalation. This is where I like to incorporate 3-part-breathing because it helps identify markers for the pause, or interruption. Basically, you will breathe into the belly, pause, breathe through the ribcage, pause, and up into the chest, pause, and then exhale slowly. 

Stage 1 builds tension during the inhalation while allowing you to get a full deep breath. After this tension has been built both your mind and body enjoy a nice release on the exhalation. 

As you practice Viloma 1 you will increase your lung capacity while training your body to let go of tension. Everyday micro decisions build small amounts of tension, and in life there are times when it is helpful to pause and recognize what’s happening in the body. This technique helps you let go of that tension before you hit a boiling point. It is a mental rehearsal in letting go. 

Let’s try it.

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and bring your focus to the tip of your nose. 
  • Begin noticing the natural flow of breath moving in and out through your nose. 
  • After a couple rounds start consciously dividing your breath into 3 parts.
    • Inhaling into your belly, ribcage, and chest.
    • Exhaling from your chest, ribcage, and belly.
  • Once comfortable with this division we begin by inhaling for 3 seconds into the belly about one-third of your capacity and pausing for 1-2 seconds.
  • Continue inhaling for 3 seconds as you consciously widen through your ribcage bringing yourself to two-thirds of your breath capacity, then pause again for 1-2 seconds.
  • Now fill up completely as we expand out into our chest with full lungs for 3 seconds and pause one last time, 1-2 seconds more.
  • Then release on one smooth exhale — slow and steady for 9 seconds. 
  • Do 5 – 10 rounds.

While it is important to fill up to your full lung capacity, it is equally important to not add undue stress by creating strain in your shoulders, back, or throat. As you notice your body through this practice see that you are not feeling tight in your head and that your body is relaxed. 

Viloma 2

The second stage of Viloma is done in the same way but the interruption comes on the exhalation. Beginning with a nice steady inhale and letting air in 3 parts on the exhale. 

As you move into this stage take time to notice how you feel changing the point of tension from the inhalation to the exhalation. During this stage you get to enjoy the sensations of a nice full deep breath in. It is in the exhale that you mentally experience the response to releasing tension in a controlled manner. Here again it relates to life. Noting the importance of cautiously and slowly letting go of tension. Sometimes under stress we tend to react without thinking, and Viloma 2 reminds us to slowly release tension in a mindful manner. 

Let’s try it.

  • Come back to your natural breath. 
  • Notice any tension still remaining in the body after Viloma 1, and continue to release it with every exhale.
  • Return to 3-part breathing
  • Inhaling into your belly, ribcage, chest.
  • Exhaling from your chest, ribcage, and belly.
  • After a couple nourishing rounds take one long steady inhalation for a full 9 seconds, allowing your lungs to fill completely.
  • Now exhale out of your chest for 3 seconds, allowing about a third of your breath to go. As your chest drops, keep conscious that your ribcage is still lifted and hold for 1-2 seconds.
  • Exhale another third of air from your ribcage for 3 seconds and hold for 1-2 seconds.
  • Now let the final third of air go completely as your navel naturally hugs back towards your spine and naturally hold until the body feels called to the next long smooth inhalation.
  • Repeat 5-10 rounds.

Be cautious that you are making this an unhurried process. Keep the rest of your body loose while maintaining stillness. With practice, Viloma 2 will increase breath capacity while managing mental tension, allowing you to be more responsive instead of reactive.

Viloma 3

By the third stage you should be feeling a deep connection and control over the flow of your breath. Your breathing should resonate deep into your belly and your body should feel relaxed. Once this is true for you, you will be ready to move into stage 3. Viloma 3 is revitalizing! You will interrupt the breath on both the inhalation and the exhalation, maintaining control over the entire breath cycle. Filling up in 3 parts with a pause, and exhaling in 3 parts with a pause.

Let’s try it.

  • Come back to your natural breath.
  • Do a couple rounds of long steady inhales and exhales.
  • Begin the third stage on an inhale, deep into the belly for 3 seconds, and pause for another 1-2 seconds.
  • Continue inhaling up into your ribcage for 3 seconds, and pausing once more for 1-2 seconds.
  • The last third of your breath will move into your chest for 3 seconds bringing you to a full breath. You will hold here at the top for 1-2 seconds.
  • Begin to exhale out from your chest for 3 seconds and about a third of the way through your breath. Hold here, keeping your sternum up for 1-2 seconds.
  • Continue exhaling out the ribcage for another third of your breath and hold once again for 1-2 seconds.
  • The last third of breath leaves your body in the final 3 seconds of the round. This time followed by a longer hold. Unforced but pleasantly empty of air until your body naturally inhales into the next wave of breath.
  • Continue for 5-10 rounds.

Another way to look at Viloma 3 is like a ladder where your breath is moving up and down like steps. It could also be helpful to take a natural inhale and exhale between each round.

With each round the breath capacity develops and with practice the pause and hold times can become longer. This slows the breath and the mind, helping you to open up to the subtlety of your body and navigate through thoughts in your head with more clarity and focus. 

Putting it all together

Now you should have a pretty good understanding of the three stages of Viloma pranayama. Check out my YouTube Channel for more information.

Looking to Achieve Big Dreams? Better Check Your Mindset

Put Your Attitude to the Test

If you are on the path towards a big dream, you better take a deep look at your mindset and adjust your attitude accordingly. The secret to achieving those big goals is all about putting your attitude to the test. 

Whenever you are looking to try something new there will always be subtle obstacles that show up in your path. Every time you go after another goal more challenges come up. It’s these repeating patterns and challenges that conflict with your good intentions and always seem to stand in the way of your success.

You will always be presented with tests in life no matter what you decide to do. Some are obvious, some more subtle, but all happen as a result of an intention you put out into the universe. 

Let’s say you are starting a new career and it’s exciting and ready to jump in. Things start out going really well until setbacks arise as you are faced with new information. This new challenge brings up old patterns and suddenly things feel a bit hazy. This gray area is where so many of us fail. 

We begin to see the haze as a sign that we really aren’t clear about what we’re doing, when in reality it might just be a sign that it’s time to practice patience.

Life will always test you when you set an intention and start taking steps towards a new goal.

Every time you set out on a path it will be met with a test. When you are working on something new it requires you to step outside your comfort zone and that requires vulnerability and trust. You will have to work through some limiting beliefs that have kept you comfortable, and you should. Good goals should always be used to help stretch you to be better. 

Our beliefs can be very powerful and your brain is always trying to protect you so you will have to prove to your brain that you are ready for adversity. 

I like to think of these tests as the end boss in a video game. I played a lot of Zelda in my youth and before you leveled up you had to face a mean, and usually super large, bad, end boss. It was like all the creatures in that level took steroids and morphed into this end boss. 

  • It took skill. Which is what the level prepared you for
  • It took perseverance. Like going head-to-head with the end boss for days!!!
  • It took patience. Because it’s so frustrating to watch this monster steal my energy hearts over and over and over again.
  • It took concentration. Knowing where and when to jump, hide, and fight.
  • It took stamina. Being ready to come back and fight again and again until you figured it out.

The glory of beating an end boss is so rewarding. The music, the autoplay of Link and Zelda reuniting, the reward of beating a monster you weren’t sure how to defeat. 

This is how I sometimes think of my business. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds, but I remember that I set out with a mission, and knew there would be setbacks along the way. 

Sometimes things are going great and you’re growing and building, and other times you need to learn, and grow, and have patience as you build your dream. 

It’s important to remember that sometimes growth doesn’t look like growth. Sometimes growth looks like figuring out a limiting belief that you must overcome. 

The trajectory on the path to your dream isn’t going to be a straight line. Being prepared for setbacks is part of the test that will push you forward. 

The best thing you can do in these moments is to adjust your attitude. Your attitude is the only thing you are 100% responsible for. 

When things seem impossible and all your worries and fears are staring you down it’s your attitude that will carry you forward. 

That’s it.

If you are able to keep your attitude in the direction of your dreams, everything else will catch up. It’s up to you to project out to the universe how you want to feel. 

When you want something you’ve never had before you must intend it first. Take a moment right now and feel and how you want to feel when you achieve your dream. Because once the experience has happened in your thoughts the universe starts rearranging to help you receive it in reality. If you spend most of your day seeing lack, feeling lack, and experiencing lack then that is what the universe will continue to show you. This is why your attitude is everything. 

Even as you begin to work on a new dream or goal and are being tested you have to know that you know that you know that’s it’s coming to you. There is always something to be thankful for and gratitude is the quickest way to move your thoughts from lack to grace. 

The Path of Least Resistance

The universe is always arranging itself to work with the path of least resistance. This is to not disrupt the natural order of things. You are constantly telling the universe what you want by the emotions you emit. 

Energy connects with energy so when you want something you’ve never had before you need to find a way to project a matching energy. When challenges come up and obstacles are in your way it’s the universe testing your new energy, seeing if you’re ready to move out of your old comfort zone to get to that goal. 

When a challenge comes up and you throw in the towel (I’m totally guilty of this) the universe says, “Okay, cool, you don’t really want that dream job, person, adventure.” But, when you meet this new resistance with a feeling of faith or growth then your attitude starts to adjust and your mindset is strengthened on the path to your goal.

The path of least resistance begins to move in the direction of your dreams and things start working in your favor when you believe in what you’re doing and can see these tests as part of the practice to level up.

The more you resist these tests the longer you’re stuck fighting that obstacle. 

The universe wants to deliver and it always is. If you’re not seeing the results you want then it’s time to look at your attitude. 

We have become so comfortable in our small little minds that we forget that there is a universe out there constantly showing us exactly what we continually think about. 

Unwavering Faith

Humans have over 6,000 thoughts per day! And many of the studies online suggest that 80% of those thoughts are negative. Once you become aware of your attitude and how many negative thoughts you have on a daily basis it can feel alarming! You might start getting frustrated about all the negative output in your mind. 

It’s okay. You are now aware of the power of your attitude, and you are now able to start redirecting those thoughts with the practice of gratitude. Small minds play the victim, but you don’t. You are focusing on how you want to feel. And the more you feel empowered, capable, and worthy the more faith you begin to have in your future. 

You actually start seeing your goals manifest and it begins to feel right. The universe is more aligned to your new attitude and the path of least resistance flows in your favor. 

It takes work. But it’s the best kind of work you can do. 

Mindset Work

Working on bettering your mind is always worth your time. Becoming aware of your thoughts is powerful and can help you to unlock the doors to your success faster once you accept where you currently are in your present reality. Not playing the blame game or feeling sorry for yourself, but owning your experience, then you can use that to start to redirect your focus on where you want to go. You can take steps to correct your attitude to reflect how you want to feel. This will begin a compound effect that helps you to act in a way that invites in the energy in alignment with your goal. 

But that is a blog for another time. 

Breath Mindset

So much of life is out of your control, and there is always going to be a reason to give up and go back to your comfort zone. Your attitude is one of those awesome things you get to control, so use that power wisely. 

When you need an attitude adjustment, turn to your breath. Every breath pattern you have is associated with a set of emotions and emotional reactions, so use your breath to calm your nervous system. Then you will have more space to allow your energy and thoughts to travel in a more positive way that will only benefit your growth and happiness. 

Looking for some breathing techniques to help check your attitude? Here are a few, “When Life Moves You Out of Alignment, Take a Step Back and Breathe”

Welcome to the Fantastic World of Nature Journaling with Jessica Winters

Prompts, Benefits, and Joys of Enjoying a Deeper Connection with Your Surroundings

Nature Journaling is a fun and engaging activity that has the potential to strengthen your connection to nature. It is simply the practice of using nature as your muse. A journal dedicated to recording your observations, thoughts, and feelings about what you see in nature. There is no right or wrong way to journal making this activity uniquely your own.

The benefits of time spent in nature are many, and journaling is a way to capture those feelings. The practice of taking time to appreciate the details of the experience not only calms the mind but gives you a deeper understanding of the world around you. 

Little insights add up, and as your recognition of different plants and animals improves so will your understanding of the land you stand on. 

Think of your last visit with nature. What stands out to you? 

  • Morning light shone through the trees to illuminate the forest floor.
  • Two Squirrels arguing over an afternoon treat.
  • The timeless serenity of a glacier lake.
  • Birds singing messages to each other.
  • A decaying log hosting hundreds of tiny orange mushrooms.
  • The roaring sound of a waterfall silencing the world around it.
  • The Cascading snow top mountains.

Nature journaling is a way to recall the subtle observations of these moments that might otherwise be lost. Moments that inspire you and offer a door to creativity or be used as an ongoing scientific adventure that records facts of the date and time taken. The possibilities are endless.

Journaling while in nature is also a reminder to slow down and enjoy the scenery. It’s so easy to forget the beautiful setting we are anchored in and get lost in the aerobic activity of hiking. This mindful activity reminds us to slow down and tune in to the wonderful world around us. 

All journals are essentially an extension of who you are and how you see and interact with the world around you. No two journals will be alike because we all observe from our own perspectives. 

How to Begin

Journalling is about insights and exploring your connection to the world. For some people that might mean drawing, and for others, it might mean writing. You might be more of a tree identifier and I might be more of a mushroom seeker. Nature journaling captures what you see. It’s a way to combine the benefits we get mentally from being in nature and from journaling. 

There is no “how-to” when it comes to this mindful activity because there are so many routes a person can take. Don’t overthink it, just start with what feels most natural to you. 

Here are some ideas to help get your senses to sharpen on the right path for you.

When you’re out on your next nature adventure pay close attention to your observations. 

  • What stands out for you?
  • What’s the weather like?
  • What do you smell?
  • What sounds do you hear?
  • Do you tend to notice critters? Or are you more interested in plants?
  • Are you more of an observer? Or are you a textile seeker?

Starting to note what you are attracted to can make this exercise more inviting and keep you active on the journey. Another way to get started is to think about how you will journal. Here are some ideas if you’re still feeling stuck.

  • Sketching what you see
  • Writing poetry about how the scenery makes you feel
  • Pressing leaves and flowers for data
  • Lists of animals observed
  • Drawings of wild berries 
  • Noticing patterns in the scenery
  • What to forage and when. 

Any way you decide to begin is perfect. It might shift and move as you grow in the practice and that’s perfect too. 

On Sunday, July 10th the Amazing Jessica Winters is going to be guiding a Nature Journaling class as part of Breathe in Nature

The event starts early so we can beat the heat and the crowds as we gather at Lake Desire at 8am. We will start with a short hike and find a place to settle in and breathe in nature: Connecting you to your surroundings and opening your five senses. After which Jessica will take the lead and guide you with queues to help your creative juices flow. 

About Jess

Today, certified by NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute for Wilderness First Aid, Jessica enjoys educating in many ways. As a  yoga teacher, offering wilderness yoga retreats and leading motivational and inspirational mountaineering experiences.

Combining her two loves, yoga and mountaineering, has been life-changing for Jessica. She is a natural-born teacher so sharing these two paths has brought passion to her life. 

Jessica launched her own business, Wilderness Adventure Yoga, and hasn’t looked back since. She is a great organizer of professionals so she can host retreats through places like Alaska and the Grand Canyon.

Journaling in Nature has brought great insight and richness to Jessica’s wilderness adventures. In 2007 she completed the Triple Crown of mountaineering having hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental divide trail. Her journals of these adventures keep them not only close to the heart but also intertwined into the details. With thousands of miles logged in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains here in Washington as well as across Iceland, and submitted both Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro. 

Jessica has formed her own relationship with her journals as well as the nature that surrounds her and she is still excited about all that this journey uncovers along the way. 

You do not want to miss this unique opportunity to meet Jessica and hear her story as you begin to dive into your own nature journaling experience. 

Ready to sign up? Head over to Breathe in Nature for all the details. 

Is Your Subconscious Mind Working Against You?

Learn How to Reprogram Limiting Belief Patterns One Breath at a Time

Have you ever heard of the curse of winning the lottery? 70% of lottery winners end up broke or declare bankruptcy within the first 5 years! What on earth is happening here?

The answer could be buried in your subconscious. 

Your subconscious mind holds all your beliefs, and just because something changes in your exterior world doesn’t mean it lines up with what you believe is true for you. 

Your subconscious mind needs to also change, so if you don’t believe you’re worthy of the wealth, the relationship, the job, then it doesn’t matter if you attain it because you will keep losing it. That is, until your subconscious aligns with your beliefs. 

How can you do this? How is it possible to change when you aren’t even aware of your subconscious limiting beliefs?

You do this by laying a solid foundation of new healthier beliefs that are in line with how you want your life to be. You practice them until they become true for you and then, and only then, can you hold on to anything. When you feel worthy of the things in your life they will stay. 

We all have limiting beliefs that hold us back, often from things we truly want and deserve. 

Taking it One Breath at a Time

One powerful tool I have found that helps me decipher limiting beliefs is breathwork. 

By making time to sit down and breathe daily, even if it’s only for five minutes, you open gateways in your thought patterns for new information to come through. Information that can help you identify the root of your limiting beliefs.

In my own journey towards inner enlightenment, nothing has served me better than connecting to my breath. It’s a form of meditation that allows your mind to take a break from all the chatter and clear space to do some real soul searching. I have personally been able to identify and start to rewire my brain for healthier outcomes. This has worked for me, for the numerous students I work with, and it can work for you too. 

If you keep coming up against the same challenges over and over and can’t pinpoint why then keep reading. 

How Can I Rewire My Subconscious?

If you have some work in this area that you are ready to examine it begins with taking a look at your limiting beliefs–beliefs so buried that you probably have no idea where they came from. It’s just how you’ve always thought about the world and about yourself. 

The function of the subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data. It does not think or reason; it merely obeys the commands it receives from you. It diligently stores everything you do and say into your memory system. So if you are constantly telling yourself and the world that you are ugly, stupid, and unworthy then your subconscious is going to connect you with experiences that prove you are correct. 

This is why things like inspirational movies and quotes are so powerful and important. They shift your thinking. It’s also why we all root for the underdog. This is how you begin to rewire those negative patterns you’ve been feeding yourself, by shifting to more positive input. 

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” 

– Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Diving into limiting beliefs takes courage and, usually, it requires you to step outside your comfort zone. You will know you are ready for change when you agree with all these statements.…

  • You are ready to rewire your subconscious to allow abundance into your life.
  • You are interested in a quick and easy solution that fits into your busy schedule.
  • You are ready to prioritize yourself so you can take your life to the next level.

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Your subconscious mind has memorized all of your comfort zones based on habits and behaviors learned throughout your life. This is why new things feel uncomfortable and why we often fall back into negative feedback loops in our lives. Because living outside our comfort zone takes practice and feels weird. By practicing small acts of exploration outside your comfort zone you can begin to productively focus your mind on designing a life that you’ve always dreamed of. 

By design, your brain is always working to protect you. Whenever you try anything new your subconscious mind causes you to feel physically and emotionally uncomfortable. This is why it is important to establish new connections in your subconscious that includes positive reinforcement for what you’d like to see in your life. Otherwise, the feeling of discomfort will always work to protect you by keeping you a slave to your comfort zone. 

Creating New Habits

One of the reasons we tend to commit to a new habit and then break it is because we are only looking at the outcome of this new pattern without thinking about what old programming is already actively working against us in our subconscious mind. 

This is where breathwork comes in.

When you purposefully decide on a new way of being you must also purposefully include this way of being into your comfort zone. 

When you practice simple breathwork, like five minutes of inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds, you’re sending signals to your autonomic nervous system that everything is under control. 

Your subconscious mind will adapt to how you respond to stress, so when an old pattern is challenged from a place of calmness, powerful shifts begin to take place within your subconscious mind and in the world around you. 

Like any new habit, you will feel an occasional pull from your subconscious trying to lure you back to the warm cozy bed of your old familiar ways. Sometimes just thinking about doing something new or challenging a limiting belief is enough for your whole body to get tense. This is why it’s important to consciously breathe every day.  

Creating new pathways in your brain and breaking from old patterns is challenging. Your breath can guide you through each of those challenging moments by calming the tension and anxiety when it comes up. This signals your nervous system that you are still in control. 

By sticking with a daily breath practice you are reprogramming your subconscious to work in your favor.

Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

The more you have the ability to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone in a mindful way the more you are growing. And,–bonus!–the more you stretch outside your comfort zone the easier it gets. This helps you to navigate through life’s ups and downs with more ease.

All growth happens outside of your comfort zone. 

  • You have to be willing to be uncomfortable.
  • You have to be okay not knowing all the answers.
  • You have to be prepared to do things poorly until you get it right.
  • You have to be open to criticism for trying something new.
  • You have to be ready for change.

All of these things, as awkward and weird as they may feel at first, ultimately will help you develop as a conscious human who is living on purpose. You will no longer wander around saying, why does this always happen to me? Because you are expanding and it begins with a choice. A choice to grow and face the exposing feeling of being seen, or to stay safe and completely at mercy to your subconscious programming. 

Focusing on a daily breath practice will reprogram your subconscious mind. If 70% of lottery winners knew this then they could reprogram their perpetual thoughts of unworthiness that end up leaving them high and dry. They could train their brain to be on a frequency of their true desires and winning the lottery would not only be a goal that they attained, but a lifestyle they could uphold. 

Five Minutes A Day

You already breathe all day, every day, so why not take five minutes to train your mind to do it consciously? Five minutes, that’s all. In time you may find yourself looking to spend more time with your breath. 

The more in tune you become with your breath, the closer you will be to breaking your subconscious code. 

As you boost your confidence, you will find yourself taking more action in line with your beliefs and doubt will be left in the dust along with your comfort zone. 

Want to learn more about breathwork? Check out 4×4 Breathing on my YouTube page and sign up for Breath Mindset, a 4-week online course to help lay the tracks for healthy breathing practice. 

6 Ways to Invite the Shift of Summer Solstice Into Your Life

Simple Ways to Use the Earth’s Energy to Find Clarity

The summer solstice is here and marks our halfway point through the year. Here in the Western Hemisphere, we will welcome the longest day of the year. The point when the sun will rise to its highest peak in the sky. It may not feel like it here in Seattle, but Summer Solstice is the closest to the sun we will be all year.

Summer is finally here and a lot more is happening than just a seasonal shift. It also represents a time for change and new beginnings. Below are 6 ways you can honor this shift within you.

Celebration of Light!

During the summer solstice, we honor the illumination of light the sun offers the earth. If you think about it, that is what summer is about; Getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather brought to you by the sun. It is also a reminder of the light within us and all the potential we have to ignite that inner flame. Now is the perfect time to awaken new forms of enlightenment from within. 

  • Ask yourself: What am I ready to overcome? And how do I guide this darkness into the light?

Reflections

A change in season is all about nature. And nature is a reminder about our own journey through time. It also marks an occasion for inner reflection. Summer is a time to celebrate all of nature’s beauty. The fresh air, the long days, getting outside, family picnics, bird watching, whatever you enjoy, the nice summer weather offers us an opportunity to get outside and explore this great earth. Time in nature opens us up to seeing the world with new eyes. Celebrate your own cycles of growth and change.

  • Ask yourself: What season of life am I in? Can you see yourself as part of a grander cycle?

Review

Spring is about renewal. Summer is a time to take a break to notice all the work you’ve done. We are halfway through the year so it’s a good time to reflect on what seeds you planted over the spring and plan forward for what’s to come. As the season changes it’s a great time to review how the year is playing out. The energetic changes that come with a fiery intention remind us to fuel our own fire. 

  • Ask yourself: Am I on track for where I want to be this year? What can I start doing today that will help me reach my long-term goals?

Find Your Spiritual High

Every day since mid-December has been bringing more and more light into your day. Now, at the height of light, we turn towards the days steadily getting shorter once again. Summer Solstice is a spiritual high that is met before beginning the long march back to the darker days of winter. Now is the time to celebrate the sun. Take a break from planting to watch things grow and use this slow time to bathe in the abundance all booming life everywhere. Lazy summer days are great for getting in touch with your inner nature and taking inventory.

  • Ask yourself: Am I living my truth? And what changes can I begin to start living more true to my nature?

Goodby Negativity

It’s hard to feel down when the sun is shining but let’s face it, the past few years have been bonkers! We are all struggling with something. If you have fallen into a negativity loop that you are ready to break, summer solstice is the time. There are many activities and modern rituals that revolve around fire and the summer solstice represents fire in the sky. Use this time to reboot your thoughts by burning out your negative thoughts. 

Seriously. 

Write them out and burn them.

  • Ask yourself: What negative loops have I been practicing daily that I am ready to let go of?

Set an Intention

As you research the Summer Solstice you will find many festivals that symbolize the sun’s energy in all its radiance and power. Fire is used as a symbol for change, transformation, purification, willpower, courage, and strength. You can set an intention now that sparks action into your life and that is ignited by passion. Taking time to sit and breathe in the mid-day sun is a nurturing way to look within and meditate on where your energy is going. 

  • Ask yourself: What can I do to resharpen my focus? Where should I be putting my attention? 

Discover your inner strength this summer

If you move through each of these intentions and use the energy shift of the summer solstice as a catalyst for motivation, you may find the earth’s energy more open to receive your intentions. The sun is a powerful symbol and by using this season change as a guide you can do some self-inquiry that opens up new pathways for you this summer that can guide you to find more meaning in your life. 

In A World of More is Better, Choose Less and Find the Clarity You Seek 

Finding Clarity By Clearing Out the Junk!

Our breath is such a vital part of our health and yet we rarely stop to notice or observe how it’s affecting our lives. Oxygen is essential and how you breathe is directly linked to how you feel. If you are looking to bring more clarity into your life then it’s time to clear out the junk both in your environment and in your head.

Today we are surrounded by devices designed to hack into the way we think. Data collecting is so effective that computers know what you want before you do. Information is more accessible than ever before and we have endless knowledge today at a click of a button. A world where information is power has passed. Today the internet has us drowning in too much information and with so much knowledge at our fingertips, it can be hard to know what is true and where we should direct our focus. We have become a society of wondering generalities, making us the most depressed people in history. 

Everyone is vying for your attention, and yet we cannot seem to focus on anything for too long. Remember going to see a double-feature in the movie theaters? Who has time and attention for that these days?

If you want to separate yourself from the crowd, then get clear about what you want and where you’re going. Clarity is power. The more clearly you can focus your attention on where you want to go the more success you will draw into your life. 

It’s time to filter out the junk!

We humans like things. We save up and work hard to acquire things. We fill our lives with things. We fill everything!

  • Our homes
  • Our cars
  • Our offices
  • Our phones
  • Our minds
  • Our bodies

We have so much stuff that we have created a multi-Billion dollar industry just to store our things. We seem to think that all these things will fulfill us. Parting ways with something locked away in a storage unit seems like more work than paying for the storage unit to hold it.

In reality, all these things are doing the opposite. They are weighing us down and causing stress and overwhelm. 

It appears Tyler Durden of Fight Club was right when he said, “The things you own end up owning you.”

All of these things we are lugging around with us have a mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual effect on our livelihood. 

  • Digital junk is scattering your brain in the form of thousands of unread emails, and too many apps on our phones.
  • Clutter around our home is piling up and being stuffed into the closet or room that you never seem to have the energy to go through.

All of these things are keeping you in a state of overwhelm and it’s preventing you from moving forward in your life. It’s time to start downsizing. The more you have to manage around you the more clutter forms in your thoughts. 

The more you let these piles and papers, and old tucked-away treasures eat up space in your life the less space you have in your mind to find the clarity you need to be productive and peaceful. 

Breathing out the Junk

Your nervous system is constantly sending messages from the brain to the body about what’s happening in your world. When you are caught up in a stressful moment your breathing changes. It becomes quick and shallow and your heart rate steadily increases. This causes you to tense up and affects your breathing pattern more. Now if you are constantly living in stress this short, shallow, tension becomes the norm and leaves you more susceptible to disease. 

One factor adding to your stressful life is that closet or room or drawer that we all have that we continually stuff things into that “one day’ we’re going to go through. It’s the emails you saved to read, and all the other lists of to-do’s that you are constantly putting off. It’s building up in your home and in your mind all the while affecting your health. 

By simply learning to breathe properly you can start to release 70% of the toxins currently running through your body. This will elevate your mood and invites in more focus and clarity.

Breathwork has become a mindfulness practice that is used worldwide. Intentional breathing helps clear out the mind-clutter and creates space for better decision-making. Numerous studies have found that conscious, slow breathing has a direct effect on the chemical levels in the brain. It has been shown to…

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Decrease pain levels
  • Promote better sleep
  • Increase focus
  • Strengthen the immune system

There are a ton of practices out there that are used for a variety of purposes that range from better sleep to athletic performance, and even to induce a psychedelic experience. 

The act of controlling your breath helps center your mind. The calmer you feel in the mind the more receptive you are to notice the subtle body. As you relax you begin to make space for clarity. 

Linking the Internal and External World

One of the things about the breath I absolutely love is this give-and-take relationship it provides to your outer and inner world. Every inhale is accompanied by an exhale. You cannot give without also receiving. Your breath is constantly showing you messages about what’s happening inside and what’s happening outside. 

The less you have cluttering your mind and environment the more you can use your breath to focus on getting clear about your life. 

The truth is you don’t need more things. You need less. You need to create space for clarity to come to you. This is an inside job. Conscious breathwork will shine you up from the inside, and clearing your things away will shine your environment on the outside. 

You may not think that all the things are adding to your stress, but it is the micro stressors in life that add up to big issues down the road. We all know the importance of taking care of the big issues but it’s the subtle things that add stagnation to our bodies and mind. Subtle things like clutter. 

We all know that a clean environment helps soothe our minds and helps with production levels. So give it a go, and take it in baby steps. If thinking about cleaning up a whole room seems too overwhelming then start by clearing off a counter, or a drawer. Tiny steps that lead to big rewards. Accompany this by consciously breathing and directing your mind and breath into a space of more clarity. 

4-7-8

One of the more popular breathing techniques popularized by Dr. Weil is 4-7-8 breathing. It’s easy to see why. This is a great stress reliever that focuses the mind and promotes high levels of concentration and relaxation. I suggest practicing this method once a day just after tackling your baby step clearing of clutter. This method will calm you and give you a greater sense of clarity. 

One of the best things about 4-7-8 breathing is that you can do it sitting, or laying down. It’s a great way to put yourself to sleep and reset your nervous system. So how is it done?

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your back free from support OR sit in a meditation seat on the floor OR lay flat on your back in bed.
  2. Exhale completely 
  3. Through the nose inhale deeply into your belly for a count of four
  4. Hold your breath at the top for a count of seven
  5. Exhale through the mouth completely with a big whooshing sound as you count to eight
  6. Pause for a moment, empty of breath, and repeat for 10 rounds

That’s it. It just takes a few minutes for you to relax your mind and think more clearly. 

In a world of more is better, choose less and find the clarity you seek. 

A Lesson in Nature Photography with Matt Brashears

Learn Tips, Tricks, and insights from a Pro

Ever wonder what it takes to snap amazing photos in nature? Well, here’s your chance to learn from a pro using the tools you already have; your smartphone!

We all know that feeling of pure bliss and enlightenment brought to us by the intoxicating bounty of nature. She’s an elusive muse whose beauty is impossible to fully capture. Mother nature has a way of hiding her true essence from a camera lens. Even the most phenomenal moments captured on film are dull in comparison to the actual wonder of it all. Every once in a while you might get lucky with a picture you snapped on a mountain lookout or when the sun is reflecting off the water in the perfect way, but without an understanding of how to take good pictures, you will always be chasing that perfect picture. 

Matt Brashears is here to help. He loves nature and photography. He has spent years getting to know his camera and his iPhone as a tool to capture nature in its truest form, and this Sunday, June 12th, he’s going to share his tips with you!

Here in Washington State, we are surrounded by the world of nature. We are lucky to be home to 3 national parks, 124 state parks, and an endless amount of city parks and wildlife areas that include 19 marine life parks and 11 historical parks. For those of us who love the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much better. 

Explore with your IPhone

With our phones handy at any given moment you can snap a quick picture anywhere. As our phones advance, great photography isn’t just for the pros anymore. Matt is going to arm you with a few simple tips and techniques so you can easily snap beautiful photographs of wildlife and landscapes.

Cougar Mountain will be our setting for this photography lesson. A place close to Matt’s heart. He found solace in this regional park during COVID. Turning an incredibly hard time into one of the happiest years of his life. He vowed to hike as much as possible while figuring out the new norm that would last 18 months. He ended up hiking 1,500 miles, all on the trails of Cougar Mountain. He knows every inch of it and has seen it in every season. 

Not only did he use this time to keep a healthy mind and body, but he also witnessed and came to know the local wildlife. Including bears (and cubs). He even recalls a meeting with the same snail twice! He has photos of the shell markings in 2 photos of the snail taken a year apart. He came to know the owls and they allowed him close access to their personal space. He jokes about becoming so in tune with this mountain that he actually smelled a deer before seeing her. 

Matt says… 

“To me, nature photography is a celebration of nature, an attempt to capture and preserve a sliver of the joy it brings.”

He reflects how the happiest periods in his life correspond to the times he’s lived in daily contact with nature. Memories of nature flow all the way back to his childhood. 

What to expect

This 4-mile hike with Matt will be easily accessible and fairly easy to moderate. As with all Breathe in Nature events, we will begin with some breathing. Guiding your senses into the surrounding trees. We’ve located the perfect grove of cedars to sit beneath just off the trail’s edge so we won’t be disturbed. For about 15-20 minutes you will do guided breathwork that allows you to close out the world of responsibility and expectation and open up to the beauty of the moment.

Returning to the trail, all you will need is your smartphone (or an actual camera if you choose). Matt will talk about personal perspective and framing. Being clear on these two things will give you the most control over the quality of your photos. He will give a lesson on both. 

You will be challenged to identify your vantage point. 

  • Will you lie down? 
  • shooting straight up? 
  • straight down? 

You will be asked about framing 

  • What do you wish to include in the shot?
  • What are you leaving out?
  • What is your focus?
  • What is the best placement of the main focus?

Matt has a great one-pager of Photo Challenges that he uses when teaching photography at the Renton Community Center. It’s like a scavenger hunt for photos designed to help you think about options and make the right choice for your desired outcome.

Breathe, Photo, and Hike

During our time together you will awaken your senses to the natural world around you, and capture amazing photos while enjoying this hidden gem located in the Newcastle area. 

You can check out this hike and the remaining hikes at Breathe in Nature.