"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery - air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'" - Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
As a child I was an outdoors type of girl. Often, I was called a tom boy for climbing trees, rolling down hills, and exploring in bushes and behind rocks. This sense of exploration is something we often lose as we grow up. But I've been learning that we still need to make time to appreciate the world around us.
MindfulnessAnd when it comes to appreciation, where better to start than mindfulness?
In ‘Mindfulness and the Natural World’ by Claire Thompson, Thompson urges us to use the natural world to find inner calm, sense of purpose and gain perspective.
"So many of us rarely take time to appreciate the beauty of the sunlight through the new leaves on the trees or the peace there is in feeling a gentle breeze against our faces."For her, mindfulness and nature are interlinked. Taking a step outside or, better yet, finding a forest or city park to sit in can bring us closer to nature and offer escapism from our everyday lives. But rather than the natural world only being looked to as a break away from from city life, Thompson argues that we need to appreciate the nature around us every day. And her book is full of tips for how we can do that. She suggests we use our senses to take in the natural world. Whether it’s the smell of summer flowers, the sound of bees buzzing or just the very fact that the air we breathe is oxygen created by plants, using our senses help us to be mindful and centred in the present moment.
She also suggests we look up at the sky at night to find perspective – counting the millions of stars to learn how insignificant our worries really are.
"Spending time with the natural world also improves our mood, reduces depression and anxiety and increases self-esteem."Why not wake up in time to hear the birdsong in the morning? Or have a nature day where you ditch all electronic devices and find freedom climbing hills?
So take pleasure in the outside world. Appreciate the beauty. Appreciate the intricate details of the world around you. Connect with the rest of life.