Being mindful at the cottage
As a cottager, you’ve probably been practicing mindfulness without even realizing it. If you enjoy sitting at the end of the dock just listening to the waves lapping the shore, watching the loons teach their babies how to dive and listening to the rustling of the leaves, you’re being mindful. What about when you first arrive and take that big deep breath of pine scented air? According to mindful.org,
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
In those moments, you’re probably not thinking about the stress of work or what’s next on the “to do” list, you’re living in the moment, experiencing life through all your senses.
Nature is so good for our mental health. Studies have shown that time in the forest can relieve stress, reduce inflammation, improve concentration, boost creativity, improve self-esteem and mood. The presence of water increases the effects as well. There is a lot to be said for a walk through nature – the endorphins from the exercise combined with the improvement in mood and concentration is a winner. One of my sons has very depressive episodes yet he has never suffered from depression when out in nature. He absolutely loves being at the cottage. I had bought this book for him, hoping he would read it but he really doesn’t enjoy reading it so I’ve been instead. I’m usually not one to read these types of books so it’s been an interesting experience as I try something different.
Forest bathing is a recent practice started in Japan in the 1980’s. According to an article in the June 2014 issue of Oprah magazine,
“… one of the biggest benefits may come from breathing in chemicals called phytoncides, emitted by trees and plants. Women who logged two to four hours in a forest on two consecutive days saw a nearly 40 percent surge in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells, according to one study. “Phytoncide exposure reduces stress hormones, indirectly increasing the immune system’s ability to kill tumor cells…”
We knew the cottage was good for us, but we didn’t know it was this good. No wonder we can’t wait to return. I wonder if any scientist has thought to study cottagers’ stress levels? If you’re interested in a nature meditation, this one from calm.com takes just five minutes. Calm.com also has a handy app that will help you overcome stress and live a mindful life, whether you’re at the cottage or not.
Have you ever practiced mindfulness at the cottage? Did it make a difference? Let me know by commenting below.