The first offering from Orange Blossom Mindfulness was a Monday evening mindfulness hour which met from July 2022 through May 2023. It was a lovely small group of people from whom I learned so much. We met at the beautiful & inspiring Chapel of the Holy Spirit on Broadway Street in Uptown New Orleans.
From May through June 2023, Michelle and her husband worked and lived in the "semi-arid" ponderosa forests of Flagstaff, Arizona, minutes away from the high desert of Sedona and the Grand Canyon. In ancient Israel, God's people often journeyed to the wilderness to draw closer to Him and clear their minds in order to hear His voice with more clarity. Moses and his people wandered for 40 years in the desert guided by a pillar of fire; they received the ten commandments in the desert, and Moses even had an intimate encounter with God on a desert mountaintop. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert to prepare for his final march to crucifixion.
Some Native Americans also have a tradition of journeying to a secluded area to pursue a sense of meaning, or even healing. Native healing ceremonies often take place in remote areas, where technology and modern life fade away and amplify the messages of the sun, moon, landscape and creatures. Navaho, Hopi, and many other Native American tribes live near Flagstaff, and their connection to the earth has had a profound impact on me. As we visited ancient Native American pueblo remains at Walnut Canyon, and at Wapatki near the Sunset Crater National Park, I was pulled into a silence and a spaciousness that was new for me. The landscape is overwhelming; I felt the limits of my human scale. The sun and moon became a greater influence on me. Since we lived there for two months, I couldn't run from this new sense of smallness; I learned to sit with it and let it teach me.
I participated in the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run, a 5K race on Flagstaff's Mars Hill Trail which benefitted a local nonprofit: Native Americans for Community Action. There I learned that the San Fransico Mountains, which dominate Flagstaff's horizon, are believed by local tribes to be the origin of all life and the abode of the gods. The snowy peak of Mount Humphreys was in view as we ran on dirt trails through towering ponderosas and tiny wildflowers, climbing up rocks and ending in Thorpe Park. The hosts of the race believe that "running is medicine," and that "every footstep acknowledges the earth and thanks the creator."
We went to the desert, and we quieted our lives. We did hear God speaking to us, guiding us and even felt Him holding us. Maybe these ancient traditions of withdrawing to the desert work because there we are stripped of our self-sufficiency and our sense of importance. In the desert our weaknesses are as exposed as the earth, and our need for God is undeniable.
Stay tuned to see what Orange Blossom Mindfulness offers next... we return to New Orleans in mid July. A return from dry to wet. From barren landscapes to overgrowth. From century plants and cacti to tropical vegetation. Balance.
Orange Blossom Mindfulness, LLC
Michelle Scandurro here. I founded Orange Blossom Mindfulness, LLC in the summer of 2022.
I earned my Meditation Teaching Certificate from Tara Brach & Jack Kornfield's Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP) in February 2023.
I earned a 200 hour Yoga Teaching Certificate from Yoga Alliance through my studies at Swan River Yoga also in February 2023.
I also have begun studying TCTSY (Trauma Center's Trauma Sensitive Yoga) and hope to receive certification to teach TCTSY within the next two years.
As I build my teaching practice, I'll be posting guided meditations for your use here.
Part of my two-year training program was to offer two separate Mindfulness courses as my practicum. I completed my second one in June, 2022. To read more about my practicum classes, click HERE.
This is my great-grandmother (they called her Mere), painted by my great-grandfather. It's a family heirloom. The orange blossom represents my family heritage in the New Orleans area, and also the hometown of the love of my life. My past and my present. My husband is from Plaquemines Parish, where legendary local citrus (satsumas, navels, Meyer lemons...) are grown. They have an Orange Festival every year on my birthday, which just happens to fall at the peak of citrus harvest time. It's a wonderful event, complete with an Orange Queen, carnival rides, funnel bread, delicious fresh oysters, and performances. My in-laws have always grown citrus, and I associate visits to them at Thanksgiving and Christmas with sweet Meyer lemons and tons of beautiful satsumas, which we eat by the dozen. Little bubbles of joy.
When we lived in the suburbs a few years ago, we planted two citrus trees: one navel and one satsuma. We nursed them religiously for years, climbed on ladders to cover them with protective blankets when the temperature fell below freezing, sprayed them for pests, fertilized, and pruned them. If you care for orange trees methodically, they will produce millions of delicate, heavenly-scented flowers which turn into bright, sweet fruit in the dead of winter.
If we cultivate our minds with care, we, too, can bear amazing, healthy fruit.
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