20 May 2022
What is Nature Meditation?
Meditation is a mental exercise to enhance attention and awareness. Practicing meditation can help calm the mind and retrain how we react to negative thoughts and feelings. Studies show that meditating even for as little as 10 minutes increases the brain’s alpha waves (associated with relaxation) and decreases anxiety and depression.
Spending time in nature is powerful medicine all on its own, but if you want to add another layer, meditation might be for you. Here’s 5 ways it can help boost mental and physical health:
According to research, being in natural surroundings can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting calmness and relaxation. High levels of parasympathetic activity have been linked to improved emotional regulation and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In contrast, the sympathetic nervous system is activated in response to stress, and if it is constantly active, it can lead to inflammation and negative impacts on physical and mental health. The sounds of nature can have a measurable effect on stress levels, even when people are unconscious, according to some studies.
2. Immune system:
Spending time in nature has been linked to stronger immune function, which can help the body fight infection and cancer. This is thought to be due to the exposure to phytoncides one finds in nature, chemicals produced by plants, which have been shown to increase natural killer cell activity and to reduce inflammatory cytokines. Overall, the benefits of nature on mental and physical health may be largely due to its ability to enhance immune function.
Another study investigating the impact of nature experiences on emotion and cognition showed that walking in nature had emotional and cognitive benefits when compared to walking in an urban environment. Research found that the nature walk decreased anxiety, negative emotions, and rumination, and improved working memory performance.2
A study conducted early in 2022 at University of California-San Diego School of Medicine found that mindfulness meditation can also reduce pain and suffering. In the study, the researchers measured the effects of mindfulness on pain perception and brain activity.4 The study showed that mindfulness meditation interrupted the communication between brain areas involved in pain sensation and those that produce the sense of self. Although pain signals are still moving from the body to the brain, individuals engaged in mindfulness meditation practice do not feel as much ownership over those pain sensations, so their pain and suffering are reduced.
In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven society, it can be easy to lose touch with the natural world and the sense of calm and connection it brings. Incorporating mindfulness meditation and time spent in nature into our daily lives can be a powerful way to rewild our lives and improve our overall well-being – especially when this is done with friends. Nature meditation groups are popping up all over the world, creating communities and further healing through the power of connection.
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