The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS), published in 2001, found that people spend 87% of their time indoors. This figure is likely to have increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people across the world to stay at home.
Having spent so much time indoors, it can sometimes be tough practising mindfulness at home, surrounded by distractions that pull you out of the present moment.
A good way of eliminating these distractions is to practice mindfulness exercises outdoors in nature.
What is nature-based mindfulness?
Whilst mindfulness isn’t tied to a particular setting, nature-based mindfulness allows you to gain awareness of the present moment in a natural environment.
Spending time in nature can be a calming and energizing experience. Activities such as sitting in a garden or taking a walk can help clear your mind from the stresses of modern life.
The peaceful atmosphere that nature provides means that there will be fewer distractions that get in the way of you being mindful.
But why is nature so important when it comes to mindfulness?
While you can practice mindfulness anywhere, being outdoors provides a vital change in scenery from being indoors, which can help stimulate the senses as you experience new things.
Nature facilitates mindfulness meditation because nature itself exists in the present. By being in the present moment alongside nature, you establish your deep connection to nature.
By being surrounded by nature, you recognise that you are a part of it! This can help slow down your thoughts and cleanse negative emotions from your mind.
Not only will the outdoors benefit your state of mind, but also your physical wellbeing as you breathe fresh air and move around to re–energise your mind and body.
In essence, nature can be useful for mindfulness because nature provides a space for you to engage with the three key characteristics of mindfulness:
- Intention to cultivate awareness
- Attention to what is occurring in the present moment
- Attitude that is non-judgemental, curious and kind
Research into nature and mindfulness:
There has been extensive research into the benefits of nature to our health and wellbeing.
A 2018 article ‘Mindfulness and Nature’, mentions how nature supports both mind and body through balancing our emotions as well as our bodily functions and organs. This is presented through various studies, as activities such as touching wood or looking at a picture of roses for three minutes can stimulate beneficial physiological responses from the body.
Exploring mood and connectedness in three different settings (outdoors, outdoors with mindfulness or indoors), a study found that mindfulness meditation in nature can be beneficial to reducing negative mood and strengthening the connection people have with their natural environment.
A review that focused on nature-based mindfulness noticed overall positive effects of mindfulness training in an outdoor natural setting, with informal mindfulness in forests/wild nature showing a slight increase in positive health outcomes.
If you are interested in improving your physiological and mental wellbeing through nature-based mindfulness, here are a few activities to help get you started.
4 nature-based mindfulness activities to try out:
- Sitting in a natural environment. This is a widely-known practice when it comes to nature-based mindfulness. Immersing yourself in the sensory experiences of nature can help rebalance your emotions.
- Walking in a natural environment. Taking a leisurely outdoors can take you on a physical journey while your mind explores active awareness. A popular mindfulness meditation that involves walking in nature is shinrin-yoku (also known as forest bathing).
- Observing nature. Rather than focusing on a single aspect, take a panoramic view of the natural environment you are looking at. By taking in everything that makes up nature, you can ask questions about the natural world and your place within it.
- Mentally constructing an image of nature. If you are unable to go outdoors, an alternative activity is to visualise nature in your head. For example, picture a rainforest. As you breathe in and out, continue adding small details to enrich your image, enhancing your mindful meditation.
Nature-based mindfulness can be a transformative way of approaching meditation. If you find it difficult to reach awareness in indoor settings, seek a natural environment where you can practice your mindful exercises in peace with no distractions.
Let Ceed assist you with mindfulness! Your personal life coach will help you unlock a deeper level of consciousness in everything you do.