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make a drum Natural High

Natural High

By Jenny Wonderling | August 21, 2023

In the Hudson Valley, there are so many incredible ways to lift spirits and remember our connection to the earth, the ineffable and each other. Nature is lush here and very generous. With tens of thousands of acres of trails leading to nearby waterfalls, rivers, lakes, mountains and caves, nature’s healing capacity is obvious and all around. Within that balm, we can discover vast, complex and interconnected worlds as well as inner balance in our natural one.

Natural High

Sometimes the journey to find expansion and self-awareness comes from going within. Recently in INSIDE+OUT’s Psychedelics in the Hudson Valley: RESOURCES, we explored local access to greater physical and mental health through entheogenic paths. These can offer expanded states of consciousness and a deepening connection to self, others and the earth. But as Dr. Kelly Jennings, Francois Demange and others made clear in our blog Psychedelics in the Hudson Valley: RECIPROCITY, the benefits and insights of these paths can also be rife with myriad environmental, ethical and legal challenges.

Here we will dive into some mind, body and spirit-titillating excursions brought to you by…your very own body’s natural gifts. Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, these all offer a connection to your most authentic and liberated you, without any external mind-altering substances in the mix whatsoever.

Natural High

Magic Meadow Woodstock NY

Drumming, meditation, and sound healing (check out our recent article featuring many Hudson Valley sound healing artists) are incredible gateways to altered consciousness, true healing and transformation. For drumming, check out two long-standing drum circles in Woodstock: Sundays from 4 pm – 6 pm on the Village Green and on the Saturday of a Full Moon at 8 pm at Magic Meadow. Make your own Medicine Drum in the Hudson Valley with The Drum Doula; very powerful indeed. And for meditation, these retreat centers have much to offer: Sky Lake in Rosendale, Shanti Mandir in Walden and Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) in Woodstock.

workshop Natural High

Sound bath meditation at KIVA Natural High Meditation Natural High

Breathwork offers profound, even psychedelic experiences without ingesting any substances, while also intensifying a sense of self-love, compassion, clarity, healing and illumination of purpose–all with just the sweet medicine of our breath. Plus you’re in control, you can slow it down at any time or go just as deeply as you are ready to. Go to profound depths in a mere hour or so, and flow right back into your life. Alison Sinatra, Sibylle Jud at Iris Yoga, Pepper Monroe and this writer all offer powerful, transformational Breathwork sessions to individuals and groups in the Hudson Valley.

dance Natural High

DANCE as often as you can. Omar brings a freshness to every joyous, transformational Dance Lab event he produces, inviting other incredible DJs, movement and creative inspirations to lend their own unique flavors. The result is a celebration that feels inclusive, celebratory, tribal, modern, connected, and liberating all at once.

dance Natural High


Michael Griffith is another community-dance-love-generator who offers up rhythms and moves sure to give you happy feet through the practice of 5 Rhythms. WildHeart offers great contact improv and other dance workshops and events. Tweefontein Herb Farm offers a super fun semi-regular plein-air ecstatic silent disco; go wild and shake it down with headsets under the big sky with new and old friends.

sing Natural High

SING unabashedly with and for the birds. Sing to the earth and stars. Sing even if it feels terrifying. Sing. In addition to offering joyous, pure expression, singing can even bestow a sense of transcendence, wholeness, and altered states. There are also endless studies that support the health and anxiety-reducing benefits of singing. Check out: Jessica Caplan for joy-and-soul-filled singing workshops (think fun shops) and transcendent sonic soul balms offered with deep love and soul medicine. Onome compassionately leads groups and individuals to use their creative expression as a tool for self-realization, cultivating well-being and connection. Erin Stewart is passionate about helping students to sing freely and confidently while engaging play to bust through anxiety and self-doubt. Natasha Althouse brings her powerful healing ways to private classes and retreats that will make your heart and spirit swoon. And all these incredible chanteuses also perform (nay, prayer form!) locally. Don’t miss them!

hands-on branch Natural High

Other helpful practices to ground and find greater meaning:

  • Put hands in soil with thanks while tending a garden. Plant prayers with your seeds.
  • Give gratitude. Approach all waters with gratitude and humility.
  • Walk barefoot outside weekly when weather permits, and with each step, don’t forget to massage Mama Earth.
  • Explore creatively daily– not with the goal of “good” but as play and pure expression
  • Volunteer. (Check out our article “Community Building Through Volunteerism” for lots of great ideas of where, what and how to serve in the valley.)
  • Say (or feel) thank you. Often. Thank you…to the ones you love. To the ones you struggle with. To the earth and all she gifts us. Thank you air, trees, plants and pollinators. To the animals you live and cross paths with and for the ones you won’t see. Thank you to this beautiful and generous Hudson Valley that nourishes so well. Thank you for your own courage. Thank you to your body for being an instrument of experience, loving, growing and living. And thank you for this complex and precious life.

Thank you for joining us! We hope some of these offerings will help keep our world and you, dear reader, in balance. We would love to hear from you, leave comments below.

Natural High at Cooper's Lake

Be sure to search our online Directory for Wellness + Spirituality, Local Activities + Businesses HERE.

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