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Natural Awakenings SW PA, Greater Pittsburgh

Messy Mindfulness

Messy mindfulness.

 

When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I integrate more mindfulness into my life. I take a more thoughtful approach to my activities and thoughts, and take mini-breaks to slow down. It really helps me to feel less scattered and more focused. My brain is always turning and processing and problem solving, but I know that sometimes I just need to slow that down or focus on something specific, and I do that when I need to.

 

I don’t have a specific meditation practice, but I do go outside regularly and stop, listen, smell and look around. I ground with the earth and sometimes lie on the grass and watch the clouds drift by. It may sound silly, but it really does put you into a different space. We have lots of trees and so many birds. I love to listen to them. Right now, my grass is tall and full of dandelions and violets. I love them so. I can’t bear to cut them yet and they are feeding the pollinators. I take it all in with gratitude, pleasure and joy. Sometimes I’ll put on ocean sounds or some soft piano music to relax.

 

For exercise, I walk several times a day with Olive, our sweet dog. I do lots of work around our property cleaning up. I have two large garden plots and I do a ton of stretching with all of my aches and twinges that occur regularly. I was a gymnast as a youth and enjoyed rollerblading for many years, but these days I find all of the things I do to be enough to keep me moving, active and limber. I would like to do more.

 

I guess my message is that sometimes doing what we can is enough. I feel I’m a pretty well-balanced person, despite the fact that I don’t have a regular discipline of these practices. I fit them in randomly every day and they help me. I have learned to take a few minutes here and there to really listen to nature and do some stretches. I take the time in small bursts and it is okay that I don’t have a scheduled practice. I do these things every day as a natural part of finding my joy and balance in life. As long as we are doing something to take care of ourselves, it can be enough.


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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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