It is not news to us that accessing the countryside is good for us. We have all had first-hand experience of how much access to the outdoors has truly helped us during the Covid 19 pandemic. More research has been carried out to understand the benefits that being out in nature can have on our mental and physical well-being. These can be through activities such as, growing fruit and vegetables, exercising in local parks and being around animals and wildlife. However, as more people live in urbanised areas and with the impact of modern lifestyles, it can lead to humans having less frequent contact with nature.
Recently studies have found that being outdoors in natural light can help people experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), being outdoors in a green open space can help to reduce depression and anxiety and has greater connection to nature has been shown and therefore being more aware of the effects we, as humans, have on our planet.
Alongside the recent awareness and promotion of accessing the outdoors, there has also been an increase in individuals being more in tune with their mental health and people engaging in mindfulness activities.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a formal practice that is used to calm the mind and enhance awareness of ourselves, our minds, and our environment. Traditionally practiced primarily in Eastern traditions, meditation has spread into Western society and is increasingly used in a therapeutic sense.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is often used interchangeably with meditation, however meditation comes under the umbrella of mindfulness practices. The word ‘mindfulness’ simply means to be aware of the current moment.
Recent research has shown that utilising meditation and mindfulness skills can help us to embrace our fears and uncomfortable situations. Observing that, like our thoughts, this moment in time will pass too. Engaging in mindfulness activities such as meditation has been seen to assist mental health by increasing people’s awareness, clarity, compassion, and sense of calm. Meditation is not something new, however it is becoming more popular due to people wanting to improve their mental health. In recent studies, meditation or mindfulness has been shown to help people manage anxiety, stress, depression, pain, weight control and sleep quality.
Research has begun to link these two areas together and finding that increasing our exposure to the outdoors and engaging in mindfulness activities such as meditation will improve our physical and mental health. These studies have found that meditating in nature has significantly influenced their experience, as they feel more connected to their environment, through the memories they are building when being out into nature.
With this in mind we have created two meditation videos, one designed for adults, and one for children. For these meditations, you can close your eyes and just listen to my voice, or if this makes you feel uncomfortable you can watch the video and enjoy the imagery to help you ease into the meditation. When settling down to do the meditation please take time beforehand to get comfortable; that might be sitting down or laying down, if you are not able to do this outside perhaps open the windows, to allow some fresh air and sounds of nature into your meditation.
I am aware for some individuals you might not be able stretch your fingers and toes at the end of the meditation, so please wiggle your body and do what best suits you for bringing your mind and body back to the physical.
You will also find printouts of both meditations, these are available for you to download to use when you don’t have access to the internet and/or if you wish to print them off and take them with you to carry out on your next walk out into the great outdoors, may that be in your garden, local park or out in the Yorkshire Dales.
MSc Occupational Therapy Student
Sheffield Hallam University
Children nature meditation
Download PDF • 2.00MB
Guided Meditation in nature (adults)
Download PDF • 1.42MB