Lockdown is experienced differently for each of us, but most of us have at least some moments where we are worrying about finances or people who are unwell, juggling work and children, feeling lonely or bored, or feeling anxious about the universal challenge of COVID.
Just one aspect that can help us through this time is our connection with Nature.
Numerous studies have proven that being in nature reduces stress: we feel more peaceful in natural places, and our restless minds can quiet and find some calm and rest.
Here’s an invitation:
Find a place in your own garden or near your home, where you feel drawn to something in the natural world that exudes peacefulness. Perhaps it’s under a tree in your garden, the signs of spring in your local park, a view from a nearby hill, a quiet stream, or the beach if you can get there.
Take some deep breaths and relax more with each one. Slowly pay attention to what is touching each of your senses:
Observe the scene in front of you. Take your time, sinking into the experience, and study the scene in detail, one thing at a time. Notice colours and textures. Notice the space around you. The light, the clouds, the season. What is it about this scene that makes it so peaceful?
With your eyes closed, notice the noises you can hear. Again take your time. Listen for sounds close and far away. Natural and made by people. Notice the silence too. Where is the calm in these sounds?
Can you feel the wind or breeze or sun on your face? Notice the feel of your feet on the earth. Can you feel the bark of the tree, or the cool water, or the grass. Feel the stillness of your body.
Place your attention on the sense of smell. What does the air smell like? Are there flowers or grasses or bark that you can smell? What are the urban smells around you? What is it about the smell of this place that brings you a sense of calm and rest?
What can you taste? This one is harder, but perhaps it’s the coffee you had for breakfast, or the toothpaste you used? Or perhaps you’ve brought a bottle of water. Or in your own garden try something you know is ok to eat, such as parsley! Concentrate on the flavours, and let the slowness bring you calm.
Take some more deep breaths, inviting and allowing the tranquillity of this place to stay with you as you go back to your day. Notice how taking this sensory break has affected your mind and body. What can you remember from this scene, to anchor you again when you need it? You may like to end with a prayer for help to access this peace when you need it, or gratitude for this tranquil place.
(Thank you to Anneke, our Adventure Therapy clinician, for providing this meditation exercise)