from fluorescent bulbs to sunshine

Do you crave time in nature? If you live in any major city, I’d expect so. After all, our ancestors experienced the bioelectric connection with the earth’s healing negative charge on a regular basis simply by the way they lived. Today, so many of us rarely get the benefits of absorbing all the healthy goodness nature has to offer. After spending years craving regular escapes from city life to rejuvenate in natural settings, I made a bold decision and did something about it.

Before I relocated my home from the city to a higher elevation in the mountains with its many forests, lakes and rivers, I had to dedicate my weekends to traveling away from town and into nature. While I very much looked forward to my weekend escapes, the preparation to do so took work. This included the hours spent navigating traffic just to get out of town. Now don’t get me wrong, I was completely aware of what I would be giving up my making such a permanent move; the theaters, museums, easy access to my friends, and endless array of amazing cafes and restaurants, the arts and the dance scene, to name a few. But my body and intuition directed me to move away so that I may live in a natural environment. 

Upon reflection I recall that before my move, there were times when my feet never touched the ground, like when I worked a job on the 7th floor and slept in an apartment on the 2nd floor. You can imagine how, before my move, engaging in nature-based practices, such as forest bathing, gardening, earthing, and water-based rituals, were practically impossible to achieve on a daily or even weekly basis. It was hard on some days to even see the sun shine. These practices became even more seriously integrated into my way of life when I was diagnosed with a serious chronic illness in 2019. When you glimpse the ending of something (in this case, life itself), you wake up to what you love and what you hold dear. Ancient whispers of impermanence and life cycles pointed me to look outside. The seasons were showing me how to live. Merging with nature has become central and through doing so, I allowed one of my former rituals to transform in to a newer version. That is, creating mandalas. Years ago, when sitting and waiting for the next client in my therapy office, I would design, and then color-in, mandalas in a sketchbook. This ‘sacred circle’ art brought on a sense of calm, order and focus. It’s a form of meditation. Creative energy flowed. By engaging in this practice, I felt evermore ready to support my next client through the trauma work. 

After relocating to the mountains, creating ‘nature mandalas’ or ‘plant mandalas’ became the natural evolution. Keeping with this ritual, albeit in a new outdoor container, allowed me to move off of the paper and into nature herself. And because my new therapy office is in a forested yurt, I can collect natural materials and begin designing in between client sessions as a way to stay present and grounded. Plus, I get my forest bathing time in!  

Now it isn’t necessary to live in a forest to begin such a practice. If you work or live near a sizable park or even the ocean, that is great. The photos shown in this blog are from nature mandalas I made in different locations – on the beach and in the mountains. In each case, I would have never realized how much color, texture, variety there was all around me had I not dedicated time to really opening my eyes and exploring the space I was inhabiting. 

Ready to begin? Beyond the purposes of calming, focusing, or grounding, consider whether you want to set an intention. Maybe you’d like to dedicate the creation to someone or something. Take a moment to sit with this possibility. Aside from that, all that is needed is you…and if you feel it is necessary, a bowl or basket to carry what you collect. From there, find a flat surface to arrange the mandala and begin laying pieces out in a way that is geometric and balanced. People commonly work in a circular pattern in 4s, 6s, or 8s. When finished, you might want to take a photograph before you allow the wind and the earth (or sometimes an ocean wave) to take them back from where they originated…mother nature herself. Nonattachment is an aspect of the ‘nature mandala’ practice. Wind, rain and waves encourage us to let go, honoring the universal truth that all is in perpetual change. Nothing is permanent.

Be well,

Dr. Kim

essential oil essentials

Ahhh, the aroma of lavender in the air – the luxurious sensation as the oil touches the skin… Unless that sends you into anaphylactic shock (Woah!). Yep, essential oils are all the rage these days. From claims of ailment alleviation to promises of enlightenment, essential oils are praised to the 10th degree. I absolutely love essential oils and use them often. Per client request, or having been granted permission to do so, I have also used them in both individual and group therapy sessions. Other times, I use essential oils before a therapy session to help me prepare, or afterward to release the day’s residue. A saltwater-essential oil bath does wonders!

While essential oils can do a ton of good, unfortunately, there are loads of misconceptions regarding them. During this time, especially, with the stress brought on by COVID-19, we are all looking for relief. Grabbing a few bottles of essential oils might be someone’s go-to remedy for a mental or emotional boost. This is a wonderful use for img_5326those properly educated on their use, thus aware of the benefits and possible drawbacks. When it comes to essential oils, use caution and consult with a professional before diving in. My biggest concern is that many people are ingesting synthetic essential oils, whereby making them anything but essential! Essential oils are for external use only and should be diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, for example) or lotion. Before using essential oils, consult your healthcare provider, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have any health conditions.

To help me uncover some of the BS surrounding essential oil use and the many unfounded claims, I interviewed Lisa Mandelbaum, L.Ac., DPLOM of Nevada County, California. Lisa is a licensed acupuncturist, functional medicine practitioner, and is certified in Oriental Medicine. She has studied essential oils extensively, even beyond her formal academic years.

When people ask me about the best essential oils for relaxation and for calming themselves before bed (both physically and mentally), lavender immediately comes to mind. Lisa confirmed, “Lavender is the key for sleep.” She added, “I also like grounding the bottom of the feet with black spruce.” What a lovely bedtime ritual.

Others wish to know which essential oils will help them stay asleep through the night. They’re sick and tired of waking up at three or four in the morning! This can be a tricky area. Lisa told me that this is “…hard to say because people wake up for different reasons.” If someone wakes up from pain, Lisa recommends frankincense. However if the awakening is due to anxiety, she suggests bergamot. While for grief, Lisa recommends geranium.

On a different note, there are essential oils that help with grounding anytime of the day or night. Cedar is one I have used for this purpose. Lisa highly recommends anything deep and rooty, such as black spruce and frankincense.

One of my favorite essential oils assists in opening the third eye. Just dab a drop of clary sage essential oil at the brow center, lie back and relax. Lisa taught me that one!

I wanted to know which oils were Lisa’s most loved. One of Lisa’s favorite essential oils is bergamot. She said, “It is super relaxing and fits everyone’s constitution. You place it near the tip of the ear.” Sometimes we just need to wake up and get going though. Lisa told me that placing a drop of “…rosemary on the top of the head is great for a burst of energy.”

In this May 2020 blog article, only a handful of essential oils have been named. Below, I will list just a few of them alongside some of their functions according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Bergamot: Regulates Qi; settling to the heart; balancing to the spirit.

Black Spruce: Strengthens lung and kidney; expels phlegm; strengthens the spirit.

Clary Sage: Activates Qi and blood; harmonizes the spirit.

Frankincense: Activates Qi and blood; Strengthens the spirit.

Lavender: Activates Qi; clears heat; calms the spirit.

You may soon find these wonderful oils ‘essential’ to your life, as I have mine. For more information on essential oil properties and functions or continuing education units for acupuncture and oriental medicine healthcare professionals, visit Snow Lotus at

For information on essential oil warnings and risks, here is one popular report:

boosting your dreams

Sometimes we dreamers need a little extra support. Maybe it’s constant morning noise from outside, or the ongoing use of alarms, that has lead to poor dream recall. No matter the reason or situation, nature’s helpers do exist. With that said, I must remind you that this article is not meant nor is it intended to persuade or provide medical information. I make no claims regarding the effectiveness of anything listed in the article – for all I know, results could be a result of placebo effects. Always consult a physician or medical professional for advice regarding supplements or consumables. Now on with the blogging!

When I need a dream boost, I either place my amethyst or high-charged quartz crystal, img_3694also known as a Herkimer Diamond, under the covers with me. Both stones are credited for enhancing dream recall as well as vivid qualities of the dream itself. I have found that to be the case in my experience when working with these stones. Those are my top two go-to stones. Others swear by any kind of quartz crystal. Part of creating a space for conscious dreaming is the preparation ritual. It’s easy to bypass this part, yet intention is a key element behind any and all rituals. For example, I sometimes burn a mugwort leaf in my bedroom – it’s a highly regarded ancient incense, you know! I’ve also used locally-crafted tinctures as well as essential oil based body oils infused with mugwort. No matter what I use, it is necessary to set the intention for the goal to manifest.

img_3695See it already happening!

Write it down.

Proclaim it: “I recall my dreams.”

Our beliefs and intention make a world of difference.

Intention + Practice + Plant helpers = Success.

Being part of the world’s largest professional dream organization, the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD), I can attest to the dozens of products that are on the market claiming to bring on dream recall and increased lucidity. Having never tried anything beyond what I mentioned above, I became curious and changed my tune this year. One company I recently encountered is dreamleaf (see img_3696-1Their mission is directed toward human consciousness – specifically increasing it through the method of dreaming. The founder and co-founder have experienced lucid dreams and understand the great potential that accessing conscious dream states have for humanity. Since I couldn’t agree more, I turned to them when I found myself in a slump, with significantly reduced dream recall and a low level of awareness in my dreams (What I mean by that, is that when a dream scene turned so bizarre where I would normally question whether I was dreaming, I did not. That meant no lucid dream for me!). But, also, as I said, I was just deeply curious, having never tried a dietary supplement created solely for lucid dreaming. It sounded exciting. Some authors who write about dreaming have expressed the benefits dreamleaf’s featured red pill/blue pill product called dreamleaf. I decided to purchase it. So far, I have not experienced the results I was hoping for, yet I have only used each supplement about a half-dozen times. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot soon.

What I have found to be very effective for enhancing dream lucidity, outside of the world of plants and supplements, is maintaining a consistent meditation practice. And I don’t just mean a disciplined sitting practice, although those are excellent, but committing to daily mindfulness-based exercises. I was taught several variations during my training by teachers coming out of the Buddhist, Yogic, and Gnostic traditions. The variety helps alleviate boredom to some extent, however the key is discipline.

I can’t help but notice how quickly people will flock to anything that delivers a quick and easy solution/resolution, or brings on an altered state of consciousness. I’m sure you have too…ah, the human condition. Like so many, I have lived on both sides of the fence. The long, long road of disciplined training and sitting practices versus the popping of a img_3698pill (the dreamleaf dietary supplement in my case). Call me old-fashioned, haha, but I must admit that I feel best when I know that I have worked for the results. At the same time, sometimes I just want a break from it all without losing the benefits. This year, I’ll settle on experiencing both. But I won’t lie – truth is, I have found the most impactful, memorable lessons of human consciousness capability by going the long route. Through harnessing the skills, extraordinary experiences are also replicable, and can be done at will by more advanced practitioners. Waking up is a process. By just relying on external consumables, when the pills run out, what then? The conflict is real – LOL. When I give myself a hard time, I remind myself that nature is here for us. We are nature. Medicinal plants have helped people in numerous ways for millennia. When coupled with intention – the power of the mind – there is no stopping us from expanding consciousness.

There hasn’t been a dream enhancement article at conscious chimera since October 2016, so I thought it was time. If you have an opinion or comment, please post it here – I love hearing from my readers!


To order my book, Extraordinary Dreams, CLICK HERE.