My neighbour has a nice hobby. He keeps a journal about the changes in nature over the years. Also my father used to do it, writing down the dates about the first snow, the birds leaving and arriving, the first frost and the strongest thunder of the year, floods and hot waves. Observing nature, living closely with nature is still common in many villages and small towns in Estonia. According to my neighbour s notes the Reiu River in Paikuse parish broke free from ice on the 10th of February last year. This year I thought it would never happen because the month of January brought us a real cold with more than 23 minuses and it was hopeless to dream about an early spring. But here we are again in the beginning of February 2016 and the rivers around Pärnu are almost free to join the sea in the bay. The cold has passed.
Nature I like to walk in the woods of Reiu, close to my home and not far from Pärnu town. The walking trails are available all year around and welcoming everybody. I walk regularly because it helps to clear my mind and get rid of fatigue and stress. In the woods I feel comfortable and relaxed. Walking is one nice way to keep your body and mind in a positive flow. Fresh air, beautiful scenery and movement create that fresh and happy feeling that is needed to face the every-day challenges.
Spending time outdoors can be inspiring and definitely the easiest way to do something good and healthy for yourself. Take this practice into your daily routine and turn it into a positive habit instead of driving to the gym, spending an hour indoors on a treadmill and driving back home afterwards.
After reaching the natural area for a walk, it would be wise to take off your headphones, stop for a little while and listen. Listen to the sound of nature, it has a healing effect on your mind and soul, and can easily relax your tensions.
There are different sounds in nature depending on the season. Right now it is very quiet there but very soon, the whole forest will be full of birds happily greeting the starting spring. You can be part of this joy while walking in the woods. Be awake, keep your eyes open and look around you! Discover the beauty of nature and don’t miss it! Be grateful for the gift nature is offering you.
Mindfulness is about staying in the present moment, being aware of the things around you. Take this great opportunity and start practicing mindfulness in nature. It is a wonderful experience, unique and positive, and by the way – free of charge :).
Jon Kabat Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, defines “mindfulness” as a non-judgmental, moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. While practicing mindfulness, we are fully focussed on the present moment rather than worrying about the past or imagining the future (as we usually do I am afraid). We also feel free from judgement, accepting the environment, thoughts and feelings as they are. There is no right or wrong.
Lecturer of Spa Management, University of Tartu Pärnu College
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