Can being in nature heal us of anxiety? Author Alice Peck reveals why noticing your natural surrounds could be the key to inner calm ..
In just the same way as we can focus on our breath and the sensations of our bodies, we can meditate on the sensations coming from the world around us. This can apply to any of our senses, and it is a form of mindfulness. There’s a famous exercise popularised by Jon Kabat-Zinn and taught in Mindfulness Stress Reduction Programmes using the contemplation and deliberate consumption of a single raisin to increase presence in mindfulness meditation. For our purposes, I’ve adapted it to a dandelion flower, but it could be anything from nature – a pine cone, a rose petal, a blade of grass. See if you experience some of the green cure effects of deeply experiencing a small bit of nature.
1. Find a comfortable, quit place to sit, this might be your favourite park bench, near a window as the sine rises, or on a blanket in the garden. Wherever it is, make sure it’s a spot that allows you to get as quiet and as connected as possible to some aspect of nature.If all else fails, play a recording of nature sounds.
2. Pause and assess how you feel. Are you anxious? Tired? Restless? Bleary? Make a mental note of the sensation.
3. Now, pick up the dandelion or whatever you’re using for your meditation and weigh it in the palm of your hand.Feel it’s heft or lightness. Is it soft? sticky?
4. Next, look at it. Really focus on it with your complete attention. Imagine it’s the first dandelion you’ve ever seen. Can you find any fractal patterns? What does the colour yellow evoke for you?
5. Turn the flower over between your fingers and connect to its texture and feel. Try closing your eyes, so that all your information comes solely from touch.
6. Try smelling the dandelion. Is there a fragrance? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Assuming you’re not allergic, don’t just sniff it, but hold it near your nose and breathe slowly and deeply. Repeat or a few
7. Now, close your eyes and picture the dandelion. What does it evoke for you ?Look at that thought and let it go as you assess how you feel. Are you more relaxed? focused? Do you feel more connected to your surroundings?
Extracted from The green Cure by Alice Peck