Being…. what does that word mean to you and evoke in your thoughts?
I feel like many of us have become human doings, not human beings anymore. We have told ourselves or allowed society to tell us that simply being or being still and in the moment isn’t good enough. You have to be always doing something in order to have purpose, to not be wasting time, to be good enough.
We have allowed the concept of just sitting in nature, especially in public gardens or park, to become a potentially absurd and anxiety provoking thought. One that could lead to embarrassment or judgement.
But, I feel that this is all so wrong, and I want you to know that BEING is ok. You deserve it, are good enough for it and will still be full of purpose. Just being, sitting, breathing and feeling is SO fundamental to our overall wellbeing. It improves our mental health, physical health and awareness of self. A little added focus can mean it also takes us away from the past, back from the future, and grounds us to the present moment. To see the beauty of that exact moment, the nature around us – trees, wildlife, colours, smells and sounds.
We can keep ourselves so busy because it ‘looks better’ and it feels better, or perhaps is easier. Being can mean we feel, and feeling isn’t always easy. It can feel odd or scary. But feeling is natural and allowing space to feel is so important. We need to feel in order to be aware of what is happening to us, how we are doing and how we are reacting to things in the now. This awareness can then enable us to check in with ourselves, see what needs we are missing at this moment in time and then seek help or put a plan in place to soothe ourselves.
Did you know that we all have fundamental basic physical and psychological needs in order to survive and then thrive? Not just air, food and water. Take a look at this graphic below from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is a psychological theory we base much of our work on.
Maslow believed that people have an inborn desire to be self-actualised, which in simple terms means, to be all they can be. To achieve this ultimate goal, however, a number of more basic needs must be met. This includes the need for food, safety, love, and self-esteem. Maslow saw these details as a pyramid style hierarchy shown above, which you work your way up. But I think, we are all individuals that all need the same things, but in different quantities and of varied importance. So you may work your way up smoothly or you may have some but not all of your basic needs met, but still have some your psychological needs met too.
Moving back to the idea of being and sitting in nature, let me ask you a question, when you last went for a walk outside, did you see anyone sitting on a bench or the ground? Just being and taking in their surroundings? If so, what did you think? What was your initial judgement… omg what are they doing? Don’t they look stupid and useless?
I highly doubt it and I know my initial thought is actually… wow, I wish I had the confidence to do that! That looks so relaxing!
This is my invite to you, to take time out and try to just BE. To connect with your breath, nature, and your feelings. It’s going to feel super weird to begin with, but with practice, it will become normal. Start with 5 minutes, perhaps in a more private space and see how you go. As it becomes more comfortable you can increase the time and also try taking these moments of being and mindfulness, in public gardens or country parks.
In case you need some extra incentives to motivate you, in recent research and studies they have found that phytoncides, which are volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) given off by trees and they are very useful to us in a number of ways:
o help promote sleep
o boost the immune system
o enhance mood
o enhance the nervous system
o reduce blood glycose.
Additionally, taking notice of fractals, which are patterns naturally occurring in nature can have numerous benefits to our health and wellbeing. Including reduced stress levels up to 60% by activating parts of the brain where stress is regulated. Our alpha frequencies are also increased when we study fractals and these can promote a sense of wellness and relaxation.
Lastly, but not least, taking time to notice these patterns, as well as the colours, shapes and sounds, can promote attention and reduce mental fatigue.
These photos below were taken from a recent gardening course held at our Craig-Y-Nos therapy garden, where we took 15 minutes at the start of the day to be. Contents of this blog is taken from my knowledge and our attendee’s input of the experience.