“Communion, at union with harmonious states of nature can be very important for modern people. It allows one to achieve inner harmony.”, Vladimir Antonov

 

Meditating mindfully in nature

The above, is a quote from a video I watched today that a member of an Ecopsychology group on Facebook posted. The quote jumped out at me immediately and I turned my thoughts to a recent Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course that I have been doing in Birmingham. The course has been organised by Between You & Me Seva, another West Midlands based counselling service who focus on providing mental health support for multi-ethnic communities, taking into consideration cultural, ethnic and religious needs.

Initially, I embarked upon the course due to a personal interest in MBCT and also because I recognise it as an increasingly popular approach in counselling and psychotherapy. I hoped to employ aspects of the approach to my own work as a professional counsellor. What started out as curious dabbling in a new approach has become quite the journey!

The course has involved regular, thorough, disciplined meditation of varying time durations. The body scan is the longest, lasting approximately 40min. Then there are the 20 minute meditations, the 5 minute breath meditations and the Breath of Fire. Most have been brought to us in the form of guided meditations making them much easier to follow and allowing us the freedom to not have to worry about whether we’re doing it right or not. The body scan, for myself, is very easy to follow and along with other members of the group, I have found it to provide instant relief and relaxation, many of us falling asleep during the course of the meditation! Whilst the purpose of the meditation is not to fall asleep, this is not a bad outcome! In order to avoid falling asleep, some of us have tried doing the body scan in the morning where the result is a considerably fresher start to the day.

Whilst I am not the first to sing the praises of meditation I know I won’t be the last. At the end of the day, it has been around for thousands of years. And with good reason.

Meditation is used the world over by different cultures in various forms. It has been shown to change brain patterns and research has actually shown that an 8 week course in Mindfulness Practice can do just that – we change our way of thinking.

For myself, I have found it to be an incredibly personal and at times intimate journey. I have had several realisations and it feels as though “parts of the puzzle” are being pieced together. Today’s “eureka moment” centres upon the above quote – I have always had a strong connection to nature and have followed a path in nature where possible. When in a natural surrounding, such as a forest, by a lake, at the shore, in the sea, by a stream; I have found that I go into a state which I now realise, is reminiscent of a meditative state.

Whilst the journey has already shown its harder aspects and difficulties, I continue to tread it carefully as I know ultimately, it is a path that leads to self-fulfillment and self-realisation. I have a greater chance of achieving my potential and helping others if I face those difficulties full-on and practice disciplined and regular meditation, be it for 5 minutes of 50.