Last weekend Shakti in the Mountains had a tent at the Meet the Mountains Festival in Johnson City, TN. Our purple tent was situated near Boone Lake at Winged Deer Park: the perfect location to catch a breeze. We had Cleo Hankins giving free chair massages and Amanda Chapman offering a free Forest Bathing Walk. It was a pleasure reconnecting with folks I haven’t seen in a while as well as meeting new people who were interested in joining our community. I want to thank everyone who helped us set up, break down, and staff our tent. It took a village and I am very grateful to: Cleo, Amanda, Janna, Jil, Judy, Laurie, Allan and Liam – you made festival participation possible.

Meet the Mountains Festival in Johnson City, TN

Kim and Amanda presenting at the Meet the Mountains festival.

As part of Shakti’s participation at the festival, Amanda and I presented on The Mental Health Benefits to Being in Nature. I learned a lot of interesting facts about the current mental health status of Americans as well as reasons to spend more time in nature. For those of you who could not attend the presentation, I am sharing the information here. Consider this article a permission slip to go outside and be.

Let’s start with current statistics about mental health patterns in the United States. Based on what I am reading as well as what I am noticing in our community, I do not think these statistics are exaggerated.


  • 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health condition. (57.8 million)
  • 1 in 6 young people have experienced a major depressive episode. (14.1 million)
  • 1 in 20 Americans have lived with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar, or major depression. (7.7 million)
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-24. In 2020, 45,979 Americans lost their lives to suicide, nearly double the lives lost to homicide.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in people reporting feelings of anxiety and depression. Clearly the fear of getting sick and the pain of losing someone you love contributed to the increase of mental suffering, but so too did feelings of isolation and loneliness.

It should be no surprise that certain groups reported greater numbers of anxiety and depression. People of color, young people, people who identify as LGBTIQ+, and female-identifying people are more likely to express depression and anxiety than folks who are white, above age 25, male-identifying, and cisgendered. This is not to say that older, white, straight men don’t experience depression or anxiety – they do. This statistic simply reflects the mental health advantages of privilege and support. [Source]

I hope these statistics do two things for you. First I hope you feel validated. The last three, almost four, years have been rough. If you have felt a little (or a lot) more anxious and/or depressed, then know you are not messed up. Many of us have struggled with the changes the pandemic has wrought.

Mugwort and Plantains

L: Mugwort vinegar made with plants from the garden and kombucha in the kitchen. Available for tasting at the Fall Equinox Celebration. R: Drying plantain to make skin-healing salve.

Secondly I hope these statistics encourage you to support yourself and others who could benefit from mental health practices. A lot of people suffer in silence because they feel ashamed to ask for help. Let’s destigmatize getting help for mental suffering. I have received therapy in the past and will do so again if needed. (Feel free to send me a personal message if you need a referral or have questions about therapy.)

The good news is there is a free and easy way to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Go outside and be in nature.

When humans leave artificial, temperature-controlled environments and interact with the natural world, they report a decrease in rumination, sadness, and negative thinking. Humans who spend time outside are less aggressive, more creative, more civic minded, and better able to imagine a future. Being outside increases mental acuity and focus and restores attention. Going outside also decreases the flight/fight/freeze response, and consequently, we are better able to relax and remain calm.

Another advantage to spending time outdoors is we are more likely to experience awe. According to Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley,  “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” [Source]

I feel awe when I watch a hummingbird fed from the Anise Sage in my yard or when I stand next to a giant Oak tree. The sensation of belonging to the web of life: a web in which I am not the smallest or the largest living thing is both powerful and comforting. I take inspiration from the colors and shapes I see as well as learn from the collaborative interactions I witness. I do not have to DO anything to receive these gifts, rather I simply can BE in their presence. That is why I go outside.

I hope you can go outside soon and often, so you too can reap the benefits of nature. You also are welcome to hang out in the backyard at Shakti in the Mountains. You can spread a blanket on the grass and watch the bees sip nectar from the flowers and hear the birds chirping nearby.

Please check out the upcoming events and plan on coming to at least one. I just received a lot of workshop and event proposals for fall, so know there is more good stuff to come in a couple of weeks.

Wishing everyone some outside time!


Kim Bushore-Maki

Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where people could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.

Kim is a licensed professional counselor and a yoga teacher. She completed the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program as well as the Shake Your Soul Yoga Dance program. Kim is very interested in somatic expressive therapy, archetypal psychology, gardening, herbalism, astrology, wisdom traditions, and regenerative economics.

Kim continues to build and to support inclusive, vibrant communities. She spends most of her time mentoring leaders, guiding healing programs, and providing mental health counseling.

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Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs

Shadow Work: Uncovering our Unconscious Needs

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