Practical mindful exercises when in nature

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5 October 2023

There are many practical ways to help you benefit from nature. The first thing that can get in your way is your mindset to get moving in the first place. You may need to dig deep to find the motivation to get outside. Sometimes you can lack the drive to do what is the best thing for you. It is therefore critical to keep in mind all the wonderful benefits of nature, literally on your doorstep and essentially free which may go a long way to getting you started. One last tip before we look at a few exercises, is to celebrate your achievements and also to pause and notice how you feel while you are outside.

Here are some mindful and grounding exercises that you can try in nature.

 

Use your five senses – this will bring you into the moment and slow your thoughts down.

Notice and pay attention to:

· 5 things you can see

· 4 things you can hear

· 3 things you can feel

· 2 things you can smell

· 1 thing you can taste

Cover your crown – place one or both hands over your crown, close your eyes, breathe deeply and mentally push yourself down gently for 30 -60 seconds.

Feel your feet – stand or sit and put all your attention into your feet. Feel any sensations of socks, shoes, floor surface, temperature and do for 30-60 seconds.

Stand like a tree – stand with your feet parallel and at least shoulder’s width apart. Keep your head floating above your body, chin tucked in and back straight. Rest your hands at your side or on your navel. Without collapsing your posture – sink all your weight and tension into your feet, allowing it to sink deeper and out into the ground below. Imagine roots growing from your feet and out into the ground. Extend these roots out to the sides like the roots of an old oak tree. Extend them deeper into the ground. Strengthen a sense of being so firmly rooted into the ground that nothing could blow you over – you are firmly anchored into the ground and are part of it. Hold this for 1-10 minutes.

Follow your breath – focus on the sensation of the breath and track it as it enters the nose, down into the lungs and back out again. Don’t force the breath to change, just notice it. In particular, pay attention to the space between the outbreath and the next in-breath – this is the moment when the body enjoys total stillness and where you will find it too.

Earth yourself – for many it has been proven to be calming and grounding to re-connect with the earth. It is recommended that 20 minutes, twice a day is best – but 10 minutes in your lunch break is better than none. Simply take off shoes and socks and re-connect with the earth – ideally real earth surfaces such as grass, stone or earth work best but anywhere will do.

Mindful barefoot walking helps with earthing yourself – focus on all the senses, clear your mind, and feel your weight being supported by the earth. Keep coming back to your feet connecting with the planet. 20 minutes is ideal.

Lying on the earth – full body contact is even better. Actively feel the earth beneath you with your hands, the soles of your feet and pay your attention to all points where the body makes contact with the earth. Feel your own pulse in your fingertips and connect this to the earth. If no-one is watching roll about and enjoy yourself being on the ground as you did when you were 3 years old.

Human beings were designed to walk barefoot on the earth’s surface and a growing body of belief is that stress has continued to increase the further away from earth contact we have become. Remember how good it feels to walk barefoot on the beach on holiday? This good feeling needs to be accessed more often.

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