I’m looking forward to co-leading a mindfulness walk in the Malvern Hills this weekend. Satya and I scouted out the route earlier this week. We’re beginning in a park, a place where order and the complexity and chaos of the natural world come together: tarmacked paths in straight lines, mown lawns and the wonderful abundance of life in the wild edges. We’ll follow a path through woodland at the edge of the park, with glimpses of the main road below and the big church in the centre of town, and then zig-zag up through the wilder hillside.
In the temple garden we take very slow steps in our mindful walking practice. On Saturday we’ll dawdle. Slower than a regular walking pace, but not so slowly that we have to concentrate on the mechanics of walking – our attention will be given to the world around us.
What are the benefits of this kind of amble through the natural world?
For many of us our history of wounding and trauma has taken place inside and the outside world has been a place of refuge from family dynamics and harm. Stepping back into the natural world is coming into a place of safety.
Some of us have a more complex relationship with the wild. We may have been told it was other people’s space, or full of strange and frightening creatures. Stepping into the natural world from this place creates an opportunity for healing and facing our fears.
Whatever our history with the outdoors, we are animals as much as people. Our bodies and minds evolved to be bodies and minds in the complex systems of the woods and open spaces of the natural world. If we can find a way of settling into these spaces we can experience a deep sense of coming home.
The Japanese movement called forest bathing draws on this truth – that simply being in the woods is healing.
The life of the forest can also speak to our questions and dilemmas. Sometimes it is the gift of spaciousness that allows our whirring thoughts to settle, and into the peace an answer we had been searching for arrives. Sometimes a particular encounter creates a new insight in us. A butterfly fluttering away reminds us of the possibility of lightness or of easily leaving or rivulets of water joining a stream teaches us that we are all part of something bigger, or the strength of an oak tree gives us the confidence to find that strength ourselves.
There are still a couple of places available if you want to join us on Saturday (2pm-4pm) drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.