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Mindfulness with Nature’s Help

by Beth on June 16th, 2010

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!

2 Comments
  1. Suzy Howell permalink

    Beth, what a lovely way to begin my morning. There is much to love in the beauty of our desert, but the sounds of the ocean waves washing ashore, I think, respond to a primal need in humans, and offer a measure of respite, rest, and rebirth that isn’t possible in the sharp brilliance of the valley sun. My summers were spent on pristine spun sugar beaches in the Florida Panhandle at our cottage, looking for shells and sand dollars, netting blue crabs and digging for cochinas for soups, making sand castles and sleeping on screened porches with the waves just a few yards distant. How sad that memories may be all that remain for Gulf Coast residents.

  2. I just got a note that my son’s teachers are going on strike and there’ll be no school on Wed and my first thought was,’Fantastic, I can take the kids to the beach!’ There is nothing like the beach for me to get my calm back!

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