I love it when a plan comes together. I've been thinking all week about writing a blog on what I have been learning on a natural mindfulness course I've been doing, and then, a few other things have passed my way that all linked together beautifully. Then this morning, I went searching for this picture of alliums (or should that be allia?), that I knew I had, and suddenly realised it fits with this week's Bazooka Arts summer colour challenge - violet. Perfect.
So much of what we share here about nature is really about mindfulness - from the really obvious, like the children's meditation that Martin Stepek recorded for us, to our prompts to notice the nature around you, which is why I signed up for a Natural Mindfulness Guide course with Ian Banyard of Cotswold Natural Mindfulness. Whilst I still have some amount of work to do to complete the course, it has prompted me to get totally immersed in nature, both when I am outside walking, through mindful walking and breathing exercises but somehow it has also made me more aware that not everyone is able to get outside, and has prompted me to think about all the different ways to bring nature to those people. Our ocean breathing video, is a good place to start if you want to calm yourself, and over the last week I have used this a lot to ground me whilst the world around me seems to be a slightly unpredictable place. As a book lover, I'm always talking about books - and whilst I am aware that it is not the same as being able to go outside, immersing yourself in a good book really can be like going to a different place, so I was thrilled this morning to see that Go Jauntly, my favourite walking and nature connection app, have launched an online bookclub. There were 3 books in their shortlist for July - and ironically they have chosen the only one that I have not already read (what a shame, I may have to purchase a new book!): it's called Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women by Annabel Abbs. At a time when many of us still aren't travelling too far from home, or are maybe not able to venture out at all, why not walk in someone else's shoes. Windswept is a story of extraordinary women who lost their way - their sense of self, their identity, their freedom - and found it again through walking in the wild. I am off to order it!
If reading is not your thing, what about sound. This week Radio 3 has been taking a trip down a Yorkshire River, the Ure every morning, following the moorland rainwaters from high up on Lunds Fell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, all the way down to Spurn Point, a narrow sand tidal island, just off the tip of the Yorkshire coast. Each programme has included a "slow radio moment" with the natural sounds of the riverside (one morning it reminded me of the moment that the team at K-Woodland dunked their camera in the pond), guests from the local communities, including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who talk about the local wildlife, as well as an appropriate playlist, including tunes such as Sir George Dyson's "A Woodland Suite" and of course, The Lark Ascending! The whole week is still available on listen again here and it is all extremely mindful.
For more listening, I've just discovered a new podcast, called Listen Hear by Rachel Howfield Massey, who made one of our advent videos last year. Incidentally, on the back of that video, I am still writing down my 3 good things in nature every day, and can really recommend it as a mindful practice. She's an expert in creativity, mindfulness and wellbeing. I've only just started listening but so far love it! Each episode includes an interview with a person connected with nature, and there are suggestions for activities you can do to connect with nature, and Rachel also leads a mindfulness meditation.
Finally, back to the alliums. I'm no drawing expert, but since I have spotted these flowers, almost exploding like a miniature galaxy, I have been trying to draw them. They're doodled in the margins of my meeting notes (shhh don't tell my colleagues) and on the painting app on my ipad. Hundreds of tiny stars all linked together to a single point. I'm not sure how much they look like the flowers but it's an extremely mindful activity that has connected me to nature this week.