Mindfully exploring nature

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding life under the COVID19 restrictions quite frustrating at times. Spending most of my time in one place, mostly indoors, struggling with lots of emails and ‘Zoom’ meetings it’s easy to feel cooped-up, stressed, stuck in a screen-bound and 2D world, disconnected from the reality about us.

I’m lucky; there is a small nature reserve nearby, and so within a short distance I can be lost in amongst a quiet oak woodland full of plants and trees buzzing with life. It doesn’t take too long before I become aware of myself – I notice that I am tense, so take a few deep breaths and… relax!

I walk slowly, stopping to look at butterflies and beetles on bramble flowers, or to listen to birdsong – today a chiffchaff, woodpigeons, and noisy blue tits scolding me from the branches above.

I realise I haven’t used my sense of smell recently: here, there are towering fountains of honeysuckle clambering up the trees, their gold and white flowers smelling sweet and green-fresh, rather like lilies; there are the earthier smells of trodden soil, fox, and crushed nettles too. Remembering to look upwards, I notice that the trees go up and up, branching like the arches of a church. In the dappled light under the tree canopies hang hoverflies, those small ‘wasp-like’ flies that hover like miniature helicopters: if one holds a finger or stick very still, they sometimes land carefully on the tip, and take a rest – how is that for connecting with nature?

I press on, reminding myself to remain alert to the feeling of my body moving, to the heat of the sun as I move out of the shade, the brush of air past my face, the hay scent of warm dry grass. Being mindful in nature is all about noticing sensations. So – in case you too are feeling a little stir crazy, it’s well worth spending a little time mindfully exploring nature. You too could discover that getting closer to nature helps to reconnect with yourself!

The Lodge reserve is currently open in a limited way, 9am to 5.45pm, Monday to Friday only. For up to date details, please see our webpage at https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/the-lodge/

Best wishes,