Before reading this blog, we highly recommend watching Hilary’s discussion around Organisational Development with Tim Coupland, on our You Tube channel.
The end of my working day has become characterised by a daily ritual of shutting down my laptop and moving into an outdoor space. It is a habit that has only emerged during lockdown and it has frankly been a revelation. The link between spending time in the natural world and the positive impact on mental well-being is well-understood and yet it is only in the last three months that it has become a consistent reality in my own life. I came across this piece of writing recently that sums up the essence of this uniquely human experience so beautifully, that I wanted to share it, in its entirety:
“When the mind is festering with trouble or the heart torn, we can find healing among the silence of mountains or fields, or listen to the simple, steadying rhythm of waves. The slowness and stillness gradually takes us over. Our breathing deepens and our hearts calm and our hungers relent. When serenity is restored, new perspectives open to us and difficulty can begin to seem like an invitation to new growth.
This invitation to friendship with nature does of course entail a willingness to be alone out there. Yet this aloneness is anything but lonely. Solitude gradually clarifies the heart until a true tranquility is reached. The irony is that at the heart of that aloneness you feel intimately connected with the world. Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind.”
(Excerpt from Divine Beauty by John O’Donohue)
Of course our capacity to get out into nature can be severely hampered by any one of a number of challenges; from living in a built-up urban environment to the demands of family, life or health limitations. And yet I have heard so many stories of people developing a connection with the natural world in a way they have not previously considered – growing veg on a small balcony or seeking out their nearest green space on a daily basis.
We are indeed creatures of habit, and for me, the ritual of spending daily time alone, outdoors has been re-enforced for long enough for it to have started to seep into my identity. It is who I am now. I am the kind of person who likes to get out into nature every day to recover, recharge and recuperate. The challenge will be holding on to these rituals as life returns to a different pace. I was about to wander into the garden earlier this week at the end of the working day when my son dashed into the kitchen to remind me that he needed a lift to football training ……. And so, some of the challenges of the next phase start to emerge.
So, have you developed any new habits that you would like to hold on to?
If you can anticipate what might get in the way, as our everyday activity starts to shift back to some kind of normal pattern again, you will have time to develop strategies that will enable you to retain them and the sense of enrichment that they have brought.
Hilary Charlton, Consultant for The Wellbeing Collective
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