Through "Mindfulness of Nature", I lead workshops and retreats whereby I invite people to explore their relationship with the natural world using experiential, sensory, mindfulness-based approaches. It's been such a privilege to extend what feels to me to be a vital invitation to young children recently - in collaboration with BirdLife Cyprus and the Family House summer school.
Mindfulness is about paying attention, non-judgmentally and with curiosity and acceptance to our experiences of being alive. We tend to live a large portion of our lives in an automatic mode sometimes called ‘autopilot’, lost in thoughts, without noticing all the other parts of our experience (sights, sounds, smells, body sensations, emotions etc). Becoming more mindful gives us the choice to (re)connect with other parts of our experience of being alive. In terms of engaging with nature, mindfulness is about inviting people to engage with the natural world through direct experience - rather than just through the lens of knowledge, facts and rational argument. Instead of learning about nature, it's about really experiencing nature - through our senses, with curiosity, imagination, creativity and feeling. Ultimately, mindfulness of nature is about remembering how to let our whole experience into our awareness – the way we perhaps did when we were children. It’s about connection and belonging – bringing our awareness back to our two natural homes – our body and the rest of the natural world on this planet.
There's growing evidence that experiencing nature is essential for our health and well-being and suggestions that if we want to change our attitudes and relationship to the natural world, we need to spend time in nature, experiencing it. These are the experiences that can inspire us to find appropriate solutions to bringing forth a happier, more peaceful and sustainable world.
In a world where our disconnection from nature is having such huge consequences for our well-being and for that of the rest of the planet, it's time to open our bodies, hearts and mind and bring our attention back to the natural world we are part of.
I'm looking forward to working more with BirdLife Cyprus to develop a wider programme to bring these nature connection experiences to schools and children more widely on the island very soon!
To find out more about Claire's work www.mindfulness-of-nature.com