Nature – A Soft Place to Land

Connecting to Nature is the journey back home to self, finding inner peace, and soul-deepening connection. When you slow down at Nature’s pace, your heart rate and breathing slow down. You relax and walk more leisurely and quietly. You become more hyper-aware of all that is around you.

Nature, in itself becomes a mindfulness practice, where you can notice more of the details - the cracks and crevices in the bark of trees, the way the leaves fall in a particular way and direction with the breeze, or the sounds of your feet softly engaging with the earth.

It is here that you are more available to tap into the spirit of the land, the plants, the animal and insect world. You notice what you are drawn to, what speaks to you. You take a moment to be near the tree or flower or insect that has your interest.

Now you turn your awareness toward your heart, focusing on the gentle pattern of breath flowing in and out. From this loving place of connection, spend time basking in Nature’s radiant beauty. Give appreciation for the time spent with it as well as allowing for the receiving of any guidance, support or healing within its presence.

It is from these Nature experiences that you are able to access your beautiful memories at anytime for they are always within you. They are able to support you through daily stresses. They are a reminder of your connection to something bigger. And they show you a deeper part of whom you are. Indeed it is an inner place to rejoice in.

-Tanya Vallianos

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice in Fort Collins, CO. She can be reached at or 970-420-9504.

Animal Wise Guides: Modern Day Support For Challenging Times

For thousands of years cultures all over the world have been working with animal spirit guides and benefiting from their wisdom. This practice has mostly resided within the context of Shamanism, in which the practitioner reaches deeper states of consciousness in order to channel spiritually-based, healing influences in the service of another person or people. Yet, this practice still survives today, not only in Indigenous cultures, but also within the Modern Shamanism movement that is gaining ground throughout the world. This is especially true within Western society, which has become less connected to Nature since the arrival of the Industrial Age. As humans come to the realization that our beautiful Earth is in crisis and we are expressing more of a desire to be closer and connected to Nature and Spirituality, these old and wise ways of guidance and healing are starting to be recognized as having real value.

In the Shamanic world, everything is alive and connected. The Spirit of the Creator is in all things, therefore there is inherent virtue, power and wisdom that is all around us and within us at all times. Each thing on Earth and within the Universe has its own particular appearance, traits and other distinguishing qualities.  Everything then, is available to show us deeper information about ourselves as we can draw certain lessons from these traits and qualities from everything in the universe, whether object or being.  

Spirit Animals (Power and Totem animals are often used interchangeably.) represent a person's interconnection to all life, their qualities of character and their power, their inner self. Many humans have developed strong attractions and relationships to physical animals, but are unaware that there is a whole spirit animal realm that is open to having deep connections with us. These spirit guides come in all shapes, sizes, characteristics and frequencies, bringing something special to each encounter. The animal spirit you meet today is usually a reflection of your deepest Self and also represents qualities in which you need to fully embody in this world, but that have often remained hidden or obscured. Guides often show up when there are current challenges or a life situation that needs attention and support showing us the way on our sacred journey.

Usually we have one or more prominent animal spirit guides (Life Animal Guide) throughout our lives showing up when we need them most. We are also blessed to have many animal spirits that show up as Helper Guides that come and go, depending on what we are of need of on our life-path in the moment. Guides are called forth by our emotions, so that they may help us at the deepest levels of our being.

It’s important to understand that we do not choose our Spirit Animal Guides. They choose us. They decide to whom they will reveal themselves to and make their friend.  For instance, you may have always been attracted to Eagle for it’s majesty, representation of freedom, power and beauty, and truly believe that it is a wonderful Guide for you. Yet in reality, this is not how Great Spirit works.

Each Animal has its own Medicine that is unique to that specific creature and is chosen by The Creator for your specific growth, learning, and healing. Spirit cannot be chosen like the color of your new car.  A spirit guide must be harmonious with the person. Discovering whom your Animal Guides are is a process of paying attention to the physical animals and signs along with the other-dimensional presences and signs that show up around you.  It is a process of developing your inner knowledge and spiritual understanding.  

Also we can not be assigned a Spirit Guide by another person, regardless of who that person maybe, no more than another person can say how or when Great Spirit will be known to you.  

Both domesticated and free animals offer an immense heritage of myth, folklore and symbolism. As we learn about our animals, it is important to know their symbolic meaning as a point of reference and comparison. Give time to the study of their characteristics, habitat and position in the eco-system, especially in the area in which you reside.  Learn about its habitat, life cycles, what it eats, physical characteristics, special skills and traits, social and mating habits.  Go to places where your animal guide can be found in real life. Study it in nature. Gaining insight into the nature of your animal guide will help you to better understand its messages, particularly the metaphor within everything it represents to you. Meditate on this knowledge and discover its power and medicine.

After you learn various ways to work with the medicine of your Animal Spirit Guide, the medicine becomes a gateway to connecting with other spirit guides found within its domain and yours. Your Animal Spirit Guide (and those spirits who choose to reveal themselves in the form of a physical animal) will teach you how to align with other spirit guides and beings.

Communication with your Spirit Guide requires reverent respect and knowledge of the ways of the animal guide. You can find ways to honor your Spirit Guide in order to develop a relationship with it. The more importance you give to your spirit guide the more it will respond to you. Again, this can only be done through actual time, learning about each animal and prioritizing your connection. Most Animal Spirit Guides do not immediately acknowledge themselves to humans, as they are careful of your intention and knowledge. A Spirit Guide is sensitive to moods, current events, and a person’s path in life. They must first trust you and learn your personality, life situation, and needs. You must learn to trust them and understand their personality, characteristics, and needs, as you would with any new friend. It is a reciprocal relationship. It takes time, patience, support, commitment, and practice.

-Tanya Vallianos

Tanya Vallianos, MA, LPC, ATR, NCC, EMDR III, EAP II is a psychotherapist in private practice. She offers Journeying experiences to connect clients to their Animal Wise Guides and other Nature-Inspired practices in Fort Collins, CO. 970-420-9504