Our gratitude mandala! Thank you James River and the rich life that lives within your watershed, for all all of the life and joy that you provide for us!

Our gratitude mandala! Thank you James River, for the rich life that lives within your watershed, and for all of the life and joy that you provide for us!

On the evening of August 10, JRA’s Watershed Restoration Manager and Lead Educator led a Finding Your Connection to the James River workshop at the REI Co-Op in Glen Allen, VA as part of REI’s Force of Nature initiative, aimed at creating more opportunities for women and girls to get outdoors.

A group of 10 women gathered in a circle of camping mats with the glow of camping lanterns and scrolling nature images from across the James River watershed surrounding them. The evening included introducing themselves and their current connection to nature, journaling as they asked the James River questions while studying a map of the watershed, a grounding visualization exercise, drawing, sharing their experience with a partner, and offering gratitude through a group mandala. Each of them left feeling grateful for the opportunity to set aside time to simply breathe and focus on the James River.

Grounding Visualization Exercise

Lean against the back of your chair, or go stand or sit against a wall. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Begin to imagine that you are leaning against a large tree. Take notice of the support it provides for you. Now begin to notice what the tree looks like. Is it a pine, oak, maple, beech tree? What’s around it? Is it in the mountains along a bubbling brook, along the edge of a field, next to a marsh creek? Just take notice of the scene that naturally falls around you and the characteristics of the tree while feeling supported. Take one last breath here and slowly open your eyes.

You can do this as a simple exercise to reconnect during the day or expand it by journaling or drawing your experience afterwards.  Where in the James River watershed might you find this tree or landscape? Go visit it over the next month and listen to what it has to say.