Summertime is one of the loveliest and most magical times of the year. Warmer weather, sunny days, and more hours of light make summer a perfect time to engage the senses and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness simply refers to the act of being present in the moment or being here now. Mindfulness practices are ways to fully engage in our environments so that we can live life more fully entrenched in each moment — awake, aware, and alive. This simple act can improve your mental health, boost cognition, and help you stay focused on your recovery. Here is a mindfulness practice to engage the senses and make the most of the summer months.
A Peaceful Summer Walk
Head outside to one of your favorite walking spots, whether it’s a woodsy hike, a park, a beachside path, or a neighborhood stroll. Nature is one of the best places to fully engage in mindfulness practices. When we connect with nature, we feel more connected to ourselves and our natural rhythms. Additionally, an outdoor stroll offers a respite from the demands of technology and work. Disengage from your iPhone and forget about any past worries or future happenings. While you’re walking, try to stay fully engaged in your environment. As you’re walking and engaging your senses, thoughts will naturally arise and distract you from the moment. This is fine and totally normal. Simply acknowledge the thoughts, let them pass by, and bring your attention back to your walk, your breath, and the natural environment.
The Senses and Nature
As you walk, notice the ground beneath your feet. How does it feel? How does your body feel as it moves through space? Look around and take note of the wonderful natural surroundings. Are there any birds? Trees? What about the quality of the sunlight? Breathe in the air. Take a deep inhale and exhale through the mouth. How does it smell? What scents are the flowers, trees, and ground offering you? Lastly, note how you’re feeling. What’s your state of mind, the quality of your breath? How do you feel while practicing this mindfulness exercise as compared to when you’re frantically thinking about many different things at once? Return to this state of peaceful summer strolling whenever you feel overwhelmed or disconnected.
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