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Connect with nature. Breathe and notice life continuing

Posted by: Anita Procter on 29-04-2020

This morning my phone was on 14%.  I know, on the 5 point How Big is My Problem scale that's at least a hundred and forty two.  I grumbled about how people shouldn't turn off other people's phones, even though "It's not good for them to charge overnight; it's good for them to run down.  100% on a phone is not good." The cat mewed in agreement and then wandered off to stare at his half-ful bowl of food.  I pocketed my phone and left the house, unable to turn on Pokemon Go for the walk to work.  

And, you know what?  It was alright.  I hadn't checked my Action for Happiness app today, but coincidentally I did do what it had suggested.  I connected with nature.  I saw at least a dozen snails, some not squashed and a number of slugs.  Very tiny ones, not the ones Guy N Smith wrote about.  I also saw a few gangs of sparrows (yes, that is the correct collective noun.  Probably) and a pair of goldfinches.  I acknowledged the two magpies I saw and noticed the seagull above.  So it wasn't as exciting as some of the nature that is coming back into our lives - there is a wonderful video montage of nature "reclaiming" towns and cities on Facebook.  I'm not sure the rhino in Nepal had ever done anything to help build the village he was wandering around, but I'll let that go.  The sight of a man slowing down on his motorbike when confronted with an elephant is only topped by the chuckle of penguins ambling down the road in South Africa.

I think the advantage of connecting with nature is that you have to slow down and be still.  The birds in my garden do not respond well to squeals of "look! The birds are feeding on that massive slab of suet and seeds! That is so cool!"  But the robin who visits is slowly coming closer to me.  The sparrows don't automatically fly away if they see me sitting quietly on the patio.  These moments of zen, as Jon Stewart would call them, are precious.  The idea of mindfulness is a sound one.  I must admit the first time I was introduced to mindfulness, I was quite cross.  It was in a room of strangers and we were all given a raisin.  I mean, a raisin.  A grape with no liquid in it.  The snack you give a toddler and then spend an hour cleaning their teeth to remove all that disgusting gooey mess.  It's not a "food" I would turn to.  A grape, yes.  A grape is tasty, squidgy, there is a lovely moment when you bite into a grape and it explodes in your mouth in a delicious way.  But a raisin.  Pah.

However, the idea of mindfulness is one you can adapt.  Not for me, sitting in a room with seven other people I had never met before, my eyes closed, my hand extended palm upwards, focusing on something that doesn't even have the decency to taste interesting and adheres itself to your molars, so you spend the next twenty minutes trying to remove bits of the detritus with your tongue, whilst resisting the urge to stick your finger in your mouth to scrape it off and therefore not feeling relaxed, or indeed mindful.  Mindfulness for me is listening, really listening to a song, allowing the music to ground me.  It is drawing something, however badly, and giving all my concentration to the creation of that image.  It is walking along, noticing the birds and the listening to whatever is there, to seeing the trees and the emerging flowers.  Now, that might not be for you and that's ok.  

Mindfulness is a chance to stop and regroup.  It is a short amount of time when the world can fade into the background and you can just exist, with no pressure, no stress, no demands.  Give it a try - there are lots of websites that can give you a script to read whilst you take time for yourself.  There is an app called Atmosphere, where you can create an ambience (I know; fancy word) to sit and listen to.  You never know - you may find a moment of zen in this uncertain time.


Stay safe.


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