Mindfulness with nature connection
Being online as a way to connect with others has become the new normal over the past 12 months. With funding from the National Lottery Local Connections Fund we’ve been able to provide Mindfulness with nature connections sessions, delivered on zoom, during the first part of this year. These sessions seem to have been a huge success, really supporting mental health and wellbeing in the community.
“Nature connections for me has become a passion and I’ve noticed things in nature in new ways which has been really lovely and made me feel more smiley inside”.
The online sessions were promoted by ourselves and partner organisations, targeted at people who were living in rural areas and feeling isolated due to the Pandemic. Having shared the dates for the blocks of 4 sessions we were soon inundated with enquiries.
Invitation to connect with nature
Working with people in the outdoors in relation to mindfulness and nature connection is something we’re very much about. However, transferring our normal modus operandi to an online environment was a challenge and interesting for all to experience and explore.
What has been so delightful is how well delivering mindfulness with nature connection online worked, with course participants keen to practice the ‘invitations’ in between sessions and report back what they noticed, in nature and in themselves.
“The slowing down and breathing and taking time to think about how I feel has been a great thing to learn about and it has made me feel I want to continue doing this because I feel better from doing it”.
“I’ve been making a real effort to not be checking my phone all the time when I’m out in nature and I feel better as a result. I can often talk myself into a bad mood but I’ve learned that my negative thoughts can often colour my whole day, which I’m noticing much more and being consciously aware of that helps me to notice what my mind is doing”.
“I’ve found the sessions very calming which has been such a nice thing to do because I’m not often still as I fill every minute with stuff. I’m noticing it’s really powerful to just be still and I realise I need to do that more often”.
Nature connection energises
What it is that people experience when out in nature that makes them feel, somehow, better in themselves? There seems a general consensus that spending time in nature delivers a sense of calmness, but is also, at the same time, energising.
Whether spending time in quiet contemplation in nature or getting more creative, using natural materials for Land Art creations, bringing focussed attention to the present moment is where the benefits lie, in relation to greater self awareness and insight into what’s actually going on in the present moment rather than just operating through much of each day on auto-pilot.
“I noticed the intensity of the colours, the blues were intense and it was powerful to look at one flower for a period of time. It was very grounding and I lost sight of what else was around and what was going on in my head. I was just grateful to have just that little bit of time to really notice the colours”.
Spending time in nature commonly delivers a sense of being more at ease, accompanied by a feeling of physical and mental relaxation.
There is a growing base of scientific evidence demonstrating that nature connection delivers measurable benefits for physical and mental health. It’s been shown that certain stimuli in nature have a very positive impact on the subconscious, effecting relaxation and emotional rebalancing.
“I noticed that stopping to notice things in nature helped make me feel calmer, which I was quite surprised about to be honest”.
Being mindful in nature
If we take time to slow down to really notice things in nature we can allow ourselves to be fascinated. Our senses then have the opportunity to connect with the sights, sounds and scents which, with focussed attention of a mindfulness practice, can be very restorative, emotionally.
“I’ve loved the nature connection activities as they’ve made me slow down and take time to notice more and kept my attention on things for a few minutes, which I know I need to do”
Helping people feel better in themselves
We’ve found it really rewarding to be involved in this project, helping others learn new and valuable skills to boost their wellbeing. We’ve learned a lot too about ways to communicate the benefits of nature connection and will be pursuing new ways to reach people who might be unable to get out into nature, but who can enjoy the benefits of nature connection from their own armchair. Watch this space!
“Thank you so much for your encouragement and support in guidance towards a more balanced life. I’ve enjoyed being more conscious of my surroundings and taking time out to think about how I feel about myself which has been most beneficial due to you guidance”.