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Ecotherapy and Mindfulness


While meditation and body scan exercises are tried and true methods of learning mindfulness, you do not have to do these in order to become more mindful. Some people really struggle to sit for lengthy periods of time, or find that they do not benefit much from doing this due to not being able to disengage from thinking. For me, nature has been the greatest teacher of mindfulness. When I am outdoors and away from all the distractions of our society, I find that my mind naturally becomes more mindful. We all have the innate capacity for this. By noticing and engaging with your immediate sensory experience you become absorbed into the present moment, and thought fades into the background. The next time you go outside, don’t be in a rush to go anywhere or do anything. Slow down, turn the cell phone off, and let your senses and curiosity guide you. What’s that tapping sound – investigate and try to locate the source. Look up in to the trees, scan for movement, and behold - there’s a woodpecker! Observe its behavior. Take a deep breath and feel the sun, wind, or rain on your skin. Pause to listen to birdsong or a flowing stream. Notice the smell of decaying leaves or flowers. Pluck a ripe blackberry and eat it slowly, bringing your full attention to the process, and savoring the flavor. Gently touch the moss and lichens growing on the tree branches. Pick up a pine cone, look closer, and discover details you may not have noticed before. When you are less caught up in thought, your mind and body relax all on their own. There is no hidden trick or secret method involved. Simply engage with the present moment through your immediate sensory experience. Do this and you will notice that the side effect is relaxation.

For more on Ecopsychology see "What is Ecopsychology and Ecotherapy?"

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