Mindfulness and being with nature
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Basia Spalek Registered Member BACP, PhD, MSc, Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy
24th July, 20150 Comments
Being outside, watching the birds, animals and insects go about their daily lives, smelling the scent of roses, these can help make us feel better. Nature is hugely therapeutic.
If we are mindful of what we see, smell, hear and touch as we engage with nature then we can embrace each special moment. This helps us to calm our minds, to let go of our worries, sorrows, fears, regrets. Nature provides for a forgiving space and we can choose how we would like to engage with nature – walking, running, sitting, lying, even cycling, swimming or sailing.
Being outside and surrounded by beautiful scenery, this can help us gain perspective on an issue that may be troubling us. By being mindful of how it is that we observe the nature around us, we can learn to apply the same skills to observing our own lives and significant experiences that happen to us. We can also practise slowing things down. Nature has its own pace, its own flow, and if we can learn to experience this then we can take this knowledge into our everyday lives. We can learn to relax and to de-stress. We can also practise breathing and connecting with nature, and in doing so, connecting with ourselves.
Given that so many people live in cities and urbanised areas these days, it is important to take time out from these environments and to go and connect with nature. Research increasingly suggests that cities and urban environments can be stressful for humans, and so there may be many therapeutic advantages in being with nature. We must not forget our ancestral roots. Historically, human beings have been hunter gatherers, moving through and acting upon their environments. It is important for us to sometimes go back to these roots in order to help make us feel better, feel calmer. Research also increasingly suggests that exercise can benefit our moods. Moving through, and interacting with, nature can therefore give us exercise that we enjoy. Thus, not only are we engaging with nature but in the process we can be moving our bodies in ways which enhance our mental health.
I truly believe that mindfulness, nature and therapy are linked, and that people can benefit from this.
About the author
Basia Spalek is a practising psychotherapist, and is a Professor in Conflict Transformation. Basia enjoys walking and running in nature and is currently writing a book called Trauma and Victimisation Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
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