I feel I kicked off 2018 with a positive shift in energy when I introduced a morning meditation practice into my routine (which I reflected on in this post on mindfulness). This is something I’ve put a lot of effort into keeping up over the last four months or so, and it’s really paying off. I feel more at peace with myself, more confident, more able to handle stress and anxiety, and in general it takes a lot more to ruffle my feathers than it used to. I don’t think meditation is a cure-all (I see it as just one component of a shift towards greater wellbeing), but I do feel it has significantly changed the way I experience the world. It’s as if I’m seeing the same world but through a different lens – a clearer one.
I had a little bit of time off work over Easter and decided to change things up a bit by adding in a morning walk before my usual fifteen-minute meditation practice, and I’m managing to keep it up now that I’m back at work. I’m very fortunate to live in a beautiful leafy suburb, with a big park only a few minutes’ walk away, so it seemed to make sense to take full advantage of this lovely green space. Not only did it seem like a way to make the most of my surroundings, I somehow felt like something was missing in my routine that more walking might be able to offer me.
On these walks I decided to not take an audiobook with me and instead started simply noticing. Noticing the subtle shift in light as the sun comes up, the soft crackling of leaves, the cool air against my warm skin, my stomach plaintively asking for breakfast, the kookaburras laughing away on top of a fence or a bus shelter, hundreds of lorikeets swarming around the treetops, the quiet rhythm of my runners on the path, the fresh smell of the dewy grass.
I realised that what I had been missing was spending quality time surrounded by nature and that this new walking routine was its own kind of meditation, a kind of conscious communion with nature and its beautiful simplicity. I like to think of myself as aware of my screen time and present as I go about my day (or at least more present than I used to be), but my new habit has made me realise just how disconnected urban living can be from the natural world.
This realisation brought to mind some information on the nature-wellbeing connection that fellow Australian blogger Cathie of 2018: A Year of Living Sustainably, who is on an awe-inspiring self-sufficiency journey with her family, recently shared in her Week 12 update. Cathie had listened to a radio program which talked about how our surroundings affect how we feel and that research shows that we are constantly responding to the environment around us. She also shared that multiple studies have shown that recovering patients with a view of nature will recover 30% more quickly from their operations than will patients with a view onto a brick wall.
These findings make complete sense to me. I’m sure that over the last few weeks I’ve been feeling so great (or perhaps I should say, even better) because I’ve been internalising the stillness and slowness of nature, taking it with me into my day and letting that feeling of calmness remain with me as the busyness of my work day sets in. This new habit feels like a preemptive remedy to the sensory overload of my day, and such a wonderful complement to my formal meditation practice.
I love that in the natural world, nothing is rushed. Everything happens in its own good time, and this is the message I want to take home with me each morning as I finish my walk and re-enter my home, with its electricity and appliances and technology. I would do well to remember that just because the world around me is always rushing ahead doesn’t mean that I have to.