I have just returned from a truly wonderful break in the Shropshire Hills. The first thing that hit me was the vastness of their countryside as far as the eye can see! Growing up as a child in a small village, nature was always on my doorstep and I was privaliged to have the fields and woods as my playground. As an adult I always feel a pull towards nature, but it was not until this holiday I realised my soul was needing it and I have been depriving myself. Most evenings I took myself off just to walk across the landscape and feel the immense space around me. As the week went on I felt so much more energised and happier! So much so, I wanted to share with you a few ways in which you too can incorporate the same benefits into your life.
“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
We are designed for outdoor living. Not only our bodies feel better for a good walk and some exercise, but our whole well-being depends on the fresh air, the space, the green nature around us, which improves our mood and brings big positive effects for our mental stamina and cognitive performance. It is also extremely nourishing for our spiritual growth. A great way to enhance your experience of connecting to nature is practising mindfulness.
The benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness a meditative practise which has been used for centuries, first by Buddhists, but now is being promoted for mental health and well-being to all ages.
Mindfulness is ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ (Wikipedia).
So many clients initially come to me with stress-related conditions, and mindfulness is one of my top stress-busters I recommend to aid your journey towards a healthier, happier life.
So many of us, especially in stressful times, let our worrying thoughts overtake our minds, sometimes even a self-destructive inner voice leading us down the road to depression and low self-esteem. But what if we can control our mind and thoughts, not our thoughts controlling us? With practise we can distance ourselves from our thoughts and learn to merely observe them, using greater clarity to decide whether to act on them or not.
Top places in south-east Kent to enjoy mindfulness in nature
Willow woods. Beautiful display of bluebells in the spring.
Northbourne village Park at the village hall and look for a footpath through the trees near the outdoor exercise equipment. This leads around the back fields.
St.Margaret’s beach, up to the Lighthouse (excellent tea rooms!)
The Pines gardens in St.Margaret’s. (tea rooms which serve Sunday roasts, and has a museum).
Sandwich Bay (start from Deal seafront, walk to sandwich along to Sandwich, then train back)
Bettshanger Park has a lovely walk around woodland and small lakes. Great for cycling. Click on the link for a map of access from north Deal-a lovely walk to the park through the fields.
The villages of Ickham and Wickembreaux near Canterbury. Lovely country pubs and the inside of the church at Ickham is lovely.
A free visit to the zoo! Near the entrance to Howletts, tucked away you’ll find a public footpath. This cuts right through the zoo and several animals can be seen before reaching a bridge taking you up and over the elephant enclosure! You can keep walking along here, or head back and walk to Mama Feel Goods tea rooms at Chalk Pit farm.
This walk takes you through Hawkshill Common, a haven for rare butterflies and wild flowers on the chalky hillside. On a clear day the views across to France while you walk across the cliffs are breathtaking. Stop at Kingsdown for a tea break, or Shelley’s tea rooms or The Pines garden- the Bluebird cafe mentioned on the link is no longer open. Take the train from Dover back to Walmer.
Used by millions, this is a great way to incorporate mindfulness skills into your everyday life. From bedtime stories to aid sleep or mindfulness for children, to mindfulness tips https://www.calm.com/mindfulness-tips