“We are encouraged to look after others, but it is just as important to look after ourselves. Contemplating the stillness of the natural world is the ideal way to gain perspective in our lives.” - Claire Thompson
July has arrived and June ended. #30dayswild has drawn to a close too. What a glorious month that was. Despite the pressures of life, I feel good. I think that is in no small part down to a month spent focussed even more than ever on being outdoors rather than inside, in whatever moments I could...and the incredible stretch of settled warm and sunny weather we have had probably helped too! Plenty of wild swimming in rivers, lakes and the sea. Time spent marvelling at the diversity in the hedgerows, the flowers coming up through tarmac and growing in all manner of wonderful locations. The birds - diving gannets, skylarks, cuckoos and swifts to name my favourites – and the bees...as well as the mating damselflies! Hares, deer and seals. Travelling to the heart of the city, both London and Birmingham, and marvelling at the urban wildlife, that can be harder to spot but it is there alright. Ensuring whenever possible, I take moments to just be, opening up my senses to the sights, smells and experiences around me. Are senses are always there but our brains can filter them out unless we focus on them.
Wildlife spotting is my daily practice, wherever I am. My friend Deb calls it my super power, but in truth I’m not sure how useful it really is, though I do love it. It is all those little moments of connection that build up to something significant for me. If I am honest, it is for selfish reasons that I go to the natural world; it helps me make sense of the human world which can be baffling and exhausting. As Einstein apparently said, “If you look deep into nature then you will understand everything better.” Everything changes, in life and in nature, and acceptance of that can be freeing, as uncomfortable as uncertainty can be. The foxgloves that were in full bloom at the start of the month have gone over, the colours of the flowers are changing and grasses are dominating and seed heads appearing. Summer gathers pace, the seasons are turning.
Spending time in nature can be relaxing and comforting, engaging our being/sensing mode of mind and deactivating our doing/thinking mode (if you are interested to explore further please see Professor Norman Farb and colleagues work on these two modes of mind). Our being/sensing mind is always in the present moment because the only time we can actually feel anything is right now; neither the past nor the future. Nature can give us pause, a chance to get out of the trenches for a bit, get up in a helicopter and see things more clearly from that elevated perspective. This perspective can allow us to realise what is needed and then take appropriate action in turn improving our quality of life and our relationships. There are many studies using the POMS (Profile of Mood States) questionnaire, which is a tool widely used to measure psychological well-being. These questionnaires are given to participants before and after immersion in nature, particularly in forest environments. Just two hours significantly improves mood, vigour and fatigue, and women’s moods seem to be affected positively more than men’s. Though POMS tests are subjective, they are coupled with measuring stress hormones and these objective results show that cortisol levels significantly drop in line with the results of the mood scores. These studies show the powerful effect that nature immersion can offer us.
This Friday, I start my first Mindfulness in Nature Mums’ Club. I am so excited to be offering this, a place to come and be guided to experience the change in perspectives, improvement in mood and relaxation that nature can give us. It will be a chance to just be in the outdoors in a safe and supported environment, with deep sensory exploration and to have fun together. I am really looking forward to welcoming the mums who have booked. They are tasters for the next three Fridays up until the school summer holidays, helping us get ready for the weekend and for the school holidays with our families. They will give me chance to get feedback and see what works best to continue to improve what I can offer to mums, and hopefully will lead to more and at different times to suit more people. For anyone in the Devon area, I will also be at the Celebrate Start Bay Day at Stokeley Farm Shop on Sunday 5th August with three different hour tasters to book on through the day, if you are interested please see www.wildnessandwellness.com for more info, or if you are in the neighbourhood come along and come and say hello to me on my stand between sessions, it’s always a great day out.
Lots of plans and activities going on, like always in life, so all the more reason to set it down and get outdoors to stop being a human doing and start being a human being! I know how good it is for me, just me on my own just being, whenever I can. It is the same as they say about yoga, the hardest thing is getting to the mat, but if we can allow ourselves this time outdoors it pays us back a hundred fold, allowing us to come back more skilfully into the doing world. July is the perfect time to experience the stillness of nature, this pause after the busyness of spring and before the coming of autumn. Who doesn’t dream of sitting by a lake or river, lazy days spent by the sea or walking in the countryside? Maybe it’s time to make our dreams a reality. #30dayswild may have ended, but let's stay wild.
I wish you well and a wild week 'til I see you again. Clare x
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