Can nature therapy help us to live mindfully? If we are seeking to live In times of uncertainty we tend to float towards the familiar; the morning routine that helps us to start the day, the habits that keep us grounded, the meals that provide comfort and the people that love us unconditionally. However, we also crave the excitement and adreneline of the new. Adventure is now firmly embedded as a popular form of holiday to be taken each year.
This familiarity and newness that nature brings with every season is one reason why nature is so important in our everyday lives.
What is Nature therapy?
Nature therapy, sometimes referred to as eco-therapy, describes a broad group of techniques or treatments with the intention of improving an individual’s mental or physical health, specifically with an individual’s presence within nature or outdoor surroundings (Source: Wikipedia)
Nature therapy is anyway in which our senses are connected to the natural world around us. It often involves some kind of outdoor activity and enables us to live mindfully, in the moment, turning off our busy minds.
Keats celebrated nature and all of the elements within his natural surroundings. As a romantic poet he basked in the natural environment, admiring its ability to heal us.
“O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, —
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell” John Keats
How to Live Mindfully with Nature
There are many ways that we can choose to live mindfully with nature. From guided walks to gardening, nature related activities help us to disconnect and eliminate distractions.
- When you go out for your next walk in the wild practice the art of observation. Look up at the trees, admire the flowers, search for the cracks in nature and allow your sense of sight to explore all of the elements around you. The simple activity can help you towards mindful living.
- Enjoy discovering wild food with the art of Foraging. This is one of our favourite mindful outdoor activities. There is no better way to plunge into the natural world then to taste it. Learning about the wild plant species and how to use them in our very own recipes is the ultimate reward when it comes to mindfully engaged nature therapy. Download our foraging planner pack to get started.
- Listen to the sounds of the birds, the trees swaying, the bees buzzing and know that nature is alive and well. The restorative power of natural sounds is worth exploring.
- Enjoy outdoor activities that allow you to immerse yourself in your natural surroundings; sea swimming, walking, running, cycling and gardening are just a handful of the many outdoor activities that connect us with nature.
- Learn about the many bird species as you engage in bird watching. You may need a pair of binoculars for this activity but even without them, watching the many beautiful birds and how they interact with the landscape it fascinating.
- Study the plants like you have never seen them before. Many wild plants, trees and flowers become familiar sights throughout the seasons but do you know their scientific names? Do you know that many of them are used by herbalists? Do you know which ones are poisonous? Learning botany can be a lifelong passion.
- Take your camera for a stroll. Photography is a skill that takes time to master but we all enjoy capturing those memorable moments. Use your photography skills to observe your natural surroundings and focus your lens on one or two important shots.
- What do all of these activities have in common? They take place outdoors, in our natural environments and they don’t cost a thing if you wanted to try one today.
If you want to embark on a week long excursion or book a guide to do a tour and learn a new skill you are going to have to fork out some cash but once you are aware of the benefits of immersion in the natural world, it is always worth learning more. Believe me if you have experienced a holiday where nature is a key feature such as foraging in Europe or guided walking holidays, you will find it hard to go back to lounging at the pool for the week. Live mindfully as much as you can throughout the year with the activities above but once a year treat yourself to a special break away on one of our recommended tours and enjoy the nature that somewhere new has to offer.
Virtual Nature Experiences
The subject of visual healing is not a new phenomenon. It is proven over centuries through the use of various art forms in therapeautic settings. Art therapy has been used in the history of mental health treatment so it makes sense that visual therapy offers the ability to reduce stress and inspire wellbeing. The term was officially coined in 1942 however is it clear from the renaissance art of the 14th century that appreciation for visual representations that evoke feelings and depict reality begin to come to the forefront. This notion of art as an expression of moods is developed further in the 20th century with renowned artists like Vincent Van Gogh using his paintings to reflect a mood at a point in time. Nature can also be used to reflect the mood of the seasons and give us living art and moving visuals to reflect upon.
What is new is the combination of virtual experiences and how we interpret moving visuals. By combining natural visuals with technology we can incorporate nature therapy into our everyday lives without leaving our homes. From scanning Google Earth to watching videos of surfers take on the waves of the Atlantic to using outdoor meditation videos on YouTube to practice meditation in your living room. The mechanisms needed to incorporate nature therapy into our lives is all around us. These applications will become more dominant as we increase our need to associate with the natural world, seeking out spaces that allow us to be live mindfully and peacefully.