Mindfulness with nature - the perfect partners
Nature is the most powerful healer!
Spending time in nature allows us to feel closer to our true selves, to feel relaxed, nourished, and invigorated. I am constantly in awe of the beauty and wonder around me. Nature holds our true calling and provides a space that feels like coming home.
Our eyes can see more shades of green than any other colour. Plants, flowers, and trees contain essential nutrients and healing properties that our bodies need.
Studies have shown how cortisol levels, sympathetic nerve activity (your body’s reaction to stressful situations), blood pressure, and heart rate are all reduced when we spend time in nature. It is also shown that we have an increase in immune functioning and creativity.
Combining the practice of mindfulness and time in nature greatly enhances the overall effects. It is possible to walk out into nature and still be plagued by worrying thoughts and concerns, rendering your experience less helpful than it could be.
If we leave the house for a walk with the intention to be 'mindful', we are then able to transform the walk into a wonderfully healing and enlivening experience. By slowing down and paying attention to the natural world and ourselves in it, we move towards a practice that will greatly enhance our health and well-being.
"Mindfulness involves the skilful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds" - Hanson and Mendius, 2009
10 techniques to bring mindfulness into our walks in nature
1. Take notice with all your senses
Listen to the sounds, feel the breeze on your face, notice any smells, and touch things.
2. It’s about the journey, not the destination
Take regular breaks along your walk to stop and notice things, explore an area of woodland, watch running water or sit for a while to take in the view.
3. Leave your watch, phone, and agenda at home
Give yourself permission to just be, allow yourself to have no timetable, no agenda, and no distraction. Being present with yourself and the natural world can be wonderfully restorative; you may be more productive as a result.
4. One breath meditation
Take a moment to stop in a place with a beautiful view and take one deep, meaningful breath. Focus on that breath all the way in and all the way out.
5. Study a flower or leaf
Give it your full attention and notice as much as you can about it.
6. Wander off the path
Find new areas untrodden by people; in these places you can find hidden treasures like a ring of mushrooms or an orchid flower.
7. Be present with the weather
If we are not mindful, we can allow the weather to dictate whether our experience is a pleasurable one or not. Embrace the rain, pay attention to how it feels on your skin, and give thanks for all the green around you which would not be possible if not for the amount of rain we have.
8. Lie down and look at the clouds
See what shapes you can find in the changing cloud formations. This is an activity we may remember doing as a child. Just because we are grown-up doesn’t mean we can’t lie back on the grass and enjoy the moment. We can learn a lot from children.
9. Take an identification book with you on your walks
You may have a preference for trees or wild plants, but stop and study and identify with the use of a good guide. I would actually recommend two books to make the identification process even easier. It is a wonderful feeling that next time you see that plant or tree you can name it and maybe know something about it.
10. Listen to bird language
There are five types of bird language according to Jon Young; song, contact calls, juvenile begging, aggression calls, and alarm alerts. Can you tell the difference between them?
Above all, practicing mindfulness while out in nature can be a very personal experience for you. There are no right or wrong ways of doing it; do whatever feels good and makes you feel that you would like to keep doing it. You should feel refreshed and revitalised after a mindful walk in nature.