Why practice mindfulness in nature?
Mindfulness isn’t only self-reflection; it can be outwardly focused. Immersing yourself in the natural environment and practising mindfulness in nature is a fabulous way to cleanse your busy brain of life’s stresses and distracting thoughts. By using each of your senses to mindfully absorb your environment, you can enjoy the benefits to your body and mind of being out in nature.
Being in nature can restore our mood, give us back our energy and vitality, refresh and rejuvenate us.extract from “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness” by Dr. Qing Li.
Is there any proven benefit of mindfulness in nature?
Using nature to restore mental health is a very common treatment in Japan. It is called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”) and there are sixty-two certified forest-therapy bases in Japan. Extensive research has scientifically proven the psychological benefits of forest bathing, including decreasing anxiety, depression, anger and stress. According to research by the world’s expert on forest medicine, Dr. Qing Li, two hours is the optimum time to spend in a forest to achieve the maximum positive effects of forest bathing. Dr. Qing Li has published a very readable book on forest bathing, that includes a mood state questionnaire for forest bathing, that I suggest you check out for more information.
Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.extract from “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness” by Dr. Qing Li.
Using the senses to experience nature mindfully
Take in the different colours and textures existing in nature. Move your attention across each object very, spending time to appreciate the intricacies of each element of nature.
Breathe in deeply through your nose and focus on your sense of smell. How does the sensation change as you move through the natural environment?
Try removing a jacket or footwear to experience more of the feelings of nature. Being ‘grounded’ in nature is refreshing, so try going barefoot during your mindfulness experience.
For ultimate tranquillity, find a spot with as few people as possible. Focus your ears on the subtle sounds of nature.
Taste is linked to our sense of smell. Your taste sense likely won’t be so stimulated in nature, unless you’re drinking water from a safe stream or eating produce from an orchard or farm.
Best spots for mindfulness in nature
Beaches are a feast for our senses. Hear the seagulls squawking. See the waves crash and foam as they reach the sand. Smell and taste the salty air. Feel the ocean air against your skin.
A forest, with its tall canopy providing cool relief from sunshine, is a quiet place to reflect and practice mindfulness. Hear water trickling downstream. Smell the humid soil. Feel the rocks and paths underfoot. See a kaleidoscope of shades and textures of green.
A quiet garden is a tranquil choice for a mindfulness session in nature. Smell the roses. Hear the buzzy bees and bushes rustling in the breeze. See the delicate petals on the flowers. Feel the shell or pebble path crunching beneath your feet.
Spending time in nature can boost problem solving ability and creativity by 50 percentextract from “Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness” by Dr. Qing Li.
Ideas to enhance your mindfulness experience
- Close your eyes to deprive yourself of your most prominent sense- it’ll help you home in on what your other senses are experiencing.
- Try journalling. Use a journal to record the elements of nature you are noticing
- Turn your phone off and leave your camera and smart devices behind.
- Learn more about forest bathing by reading Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li.
We’d love to hear your ideas and experiences with mindfulness in nature. Have you tried forest bathing?