Mindfulness and being with Nature

Being outside, watching the birds, animals and insects go about their daily lives, smelling the scent of roses, these can help make us feel better. Nature is hugely therapeutic.

If we are mindful of what we see, smell, hear and touch as we engage with nature then we can embrace each special moment. This helps us to calm our minds, to let go of our worries, sorrows, fears, regrets. Nature provides for a forgiving space and we can choose how we would like to engage with nature – walking, running, sitting, lying, even cycling, swimming or sailing.

Being outside and surrounded by beautiful scenery, this can help us gain perspective on an issue that may be troubling us. By being mindful of how it is that we observe the nature around us, we can learn to apply the same skills to observing our own lives and significant experiences that happen to us. We can also practise slowing things down. Nature has its own pace, its own flow, and if we can learn to experience this then we can take this knowledge into our everyday lives. We can learn to relax and to de-stress. We can also practise breathing and connecting with nature, and in doing so, connecting with ourselves.

Given that so many people live in cities and urbanised areas these days, it is important to take time out from these environments and to go and connect with nature. Research increasingly suggests that cities and urban environments can be stressful for humans, and so there may be many therapeutic advantages in being with nature. We must not forget our ancestral roots. Historically, human beings have been hunter gatherers, moving through and acting upon their environments. It is important for us to sometimes go back to these roots in order to help make us feel better, feel calmer. Research also increasingly suggests that exercise can benefit our moods. Moving through, and interacting with, nature can therefore give us exercise that we enjoy. Thus, not only are we engaging with nature but in the process we can be moving our bodies in ways which enhance our mental health.

I truly believe that mindfulness, nature and therapy are linked, and that people can benefit from this.

Professor Spalek is an internationally renowned researcher, whose work influences policies and practices in many different regions of the World through Basia’s role with the Office for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), with the United Nations, with the British Home Office, amongst others. Basia has written a number of single authored books that have achieved a significant international reputation, and she regularly publishes in highly regarded peer refereed journals. This research has set new agendas within conflict transformation, which traditionally has been ‘top-down’. Basia’s work is unique because she takes a ‘bottom-up’ perspective on questions related to security, accessing community members, police officers and other practitioners to gain new insights into how contexts marked by distrust and violence can be overcome. Basia is also a practising psychotherapist in order to further advance her understanding of conflict transformation. She has practised at a trauma clinic and is applying this learning to her forthcoming book: Trauma and Victimisation: theory, policy and practice Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.