The Mindful Path – Nurture Nature
By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, ACSW
Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us. – E.O. Wilson
This past month has offered new and often unwanted experiences for all of us. Feelings of isolation, fear and loneliness have settled on our world in an unprecedented manner.
Fortunately, May offers the promise of fresh air, warmer weather and rejuvenation. Scientific evidence suggests being outdoors boosts our energy, reduces pain, mitigates stress and enhances our immune system. In addition, Denver-based Knoebel Institute recently released an article on Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” relating how exposure to the sun can be beneficial to our immune system.
The meditation exercise this month is a mindful walk. If you are unable to walk outside, you can still benefit from the healing power of the sun by sitting outdoors. If you are mobile with the assistance of a walker, cane or wheelchair make sure the path or sidewalk supports your safety. Be sure to follow the COVID-19 precautions – wear a face mask, stay at least six feet away from other people, and wash your hands when you return home. By scheduling a daily walk, you can develop a positive lifelong habit.
As you begin your time outdoors, take three deep breaths. Before you begin walking, relax your shoulders by rolling them three times. Slowly turn your head from side to side as you continue your slow, deliberate breathing. Allow your gaze to soften and expand your field of vision. Notice the rich sensations of being outdoors: the breeze, the chirping birds, the warmth, the scents of spring and the daily changes in the landscape. As you begin walking, become aware of the physical sensation of movement and the present moment. If intrusive thoughts come to your mind, allow them to pass by without judgement. If you begin to ruminate or worry, you can remind yourself, “I can let this go for now.”
Ideally you can walk for 20 – 30 minutes a day or three times a week. However, research indicates even taking five minute walks will enhance your well-being and your immune response over time.
To further the positive effect, before going to bed, you can recall the sensations of your walk. Some people like to write three good things from their day and incorporate at least one discovery from their daily walk. This allows the mind to reinforce the positive.
Today, we can allow nature to heal and nurture us. Be well and stay safe.
Marilyn Halpern is a medical power of attorney, care manager and professional guardian in the Denver Metro area. For more information www.aspencareservices.com.