Mindfulness with Nature’s Help
I have mentioned before what a challenge it is for me to be mindful. I just feel like there is too much I need to get done to not be doing something every minute. And in those rare moments when I can’t be doing something, like when I am driving, I am usually thinking about what I need to do next. I really have to make a conscious effort to be mindful; to stop doing, to stop thinking and just be.
But things are so different when I am at the beach! I can spend hours sitting at the edge of the water listening to the waves roll in and watching the sand slowly bury my feet. I gaze at the pelicans as they fly by, so close to the water in perfect formation, and I smile listening to the laughter of my kids as they dive over the waves. I also love to look for shells, actually sand dollars and sharks teeth are my favorite finds. I am completely focused as I walk on the beach with my head bent, searching for a treasure from the sea.
According to Barbara Fredrickson, connecting with nature increases your positivity. She says that nature carries fascination, which draws your attention to it, and it is so vast that it can fully occupy your attention. Nature encourages you to be mindful. Henry David Thoreau experienced this during the two years he spent at Walden Pond. And I experience it when I am at the beach. I am so enthralled by the beauty around me that my mind doesn’t wander to other things. There is always another wave or bird or shell to hold my attention. I am completely in the here and now.
No wonder I am always so happy at the beach! But you don’t have to go to the beach to enjoy the mindfulness that nature brings; just go outside. Studies show that spending 20 to 30 minutes outside in nice weather boosts positivity. So go for a walk, eat lunch outside, work in the garden, anything you can do to connect with nature. And enjoy the happiness it brings!