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  • Resilient Practice

The Power of Nature

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

They say gardening is good for the soul and they are right. The natural world has a wonderful effect on our mental health.

As Henry David Thoreau (an American Philosopher) said

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

Mother nature provides for our most basic needs, the oxygen that we breathe and the food that we eat. She also tends to our mental health, our sense of wellbeing.

Time spent with nature is soothing and beautiful. After an altercation we often go for a walk to cool off.

When we lose someone we love one, of the best ways to remember them is to plant something as a memorial. Tending to that plant allows us the feel connected to our loved one. It also reminds us of the continuing cycle of life.

When we want to get the kids off technology the best way is with time outside. Many of you may well have hidden eater eggs recently and watched with pleasure as your children rampaged through the garden looking for them.

The quiet of a secluded wood is very similar to the feeling common inside a church, a reverence that helps to still the mind.

Being outside encourages us to breathe and we know how important that is.

When walking in nature we see beauty everywhere, nothing is uniform, the odd shaped trees that have grown that way are not considered weird but applauded as a testament to the tenacity of the plant.

Even a walk in the city allows glimpses of nature and its ability to survive and flourish adapting to its surroundings, the true definition of resilience.

If you live by the sea, the awesome power of nature is always apparent. The shore is different every time you visit. The sea is relentless and can reflect our mood. Sometimes turbulent crashing against the shore, sometimes calm.

Birdsong is music for the soul and hearing the joy and feeling the positive energy it represents can be a balm to our chaotic mind. Remember in meditation, focusing on one thing is what clams the mind. Birdsong can be that focus.

The movement of the trees in the wind is another great repetitive, almost hypnotic natural phenomenon that we can harness. The calming notion reminding us of being rocked as a child allowing us to let go of tensions and ruminations.

Gardening is a great way to connect to nature and provides us with rhythmic tasks that foster a state of mindfulness.

As Gandhi said:

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soul is to forget ourselves.”

There is nothing quite like eating fruit and vegetables that you have grown yourself and this can encourage children to eat their greens.

The power of nature to positively impact on our mental health has been proven scientifically. Research has shown that experiencing nature is associated with increased psychological well-being. Both observational and experimental studies have provided evidence of increased positive affect; happiness and subjective well-being, positive social interactions, cohesion, and engagement; a sense of meaning and purpose in life, improved manageability of life tasks, and decreases in mental distress. In addition, nature experience has been shown to positively affect various aspects of cognitive function, memory and attention, impulse inhibition, and children’s school performance, as well as imagination and creativity[1].

There are thousands of ways to connect with nature. Our walking meditation is a great way

You will have your own ways. This week we humbly offer some different ideas to try.

Try this:

Spring is here and it is time to think about planting seeds. We use this analogy then talking about setting intentions. Potatoes can be planted in an old bin. Make a hole in the bottom and place a layer of stones for drainage. Throw in some soil and then seed potatoes. Cover with soil and keep adding soil as the green shoots grow through. When the greenery has died back tip the bin upside down and harvest your potatoes.

Set out bird seed or fat balls near your window and enjoy the birds that will come. You will probably also get squirrels. Their ingenuity is a sight to behold. For more details on bird feeding visit the RSPB website

Take the kids to feed the ducks. Use seed if possible, rather than bread.

If you are feeling adventurous consider a Hedgehog home. All you need is a plastic box. Turn the box upside down and cut an entrance in one side. Place it is a quiet part of your garden under a hedge is ideal. Cover is with dry leaves and twigs. When you notice the entrance to the box has been cleared you will know hedgehogs are in residence. For more on this visit The Wildlife Trust

If you do not have a garden use your windowsill. Plant herbs or cut and come again salad leaves and in a short time you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

You do not have to plant something to contribute and feel connected to nature. Every time you go outside, pick up 10 pieces of litter and put them in the bin. Encourage your kids to do the same (wear gloves to do this or invest in a litter picker.) With this simple act you have become part of the growing number of the population that care about the environment and show it with action. This ritual is purposeful and positive and very satisfying.

We will leave you with words from one of the great poets Lord Byron:

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society, where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more”

Get out into nature and if you cannot go to it, let it come to you.

Tell us how you connect with nature.

For more like this see ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press. It takes you on a journey of self-discovery; it shares over 60 tools and techniques, including meditations with purpose, visualisation exercises and practical tools to help improve your mental wellbeing, reduce anxiety and allow you to take control of your life

[1] Gregory N. Bratman et al Science Advances 24 Jul 2019: Vol. 5, no. 7, eaax0903 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0903

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