STEM Pipeline Blog / February 3, 2021
Chippewa Nature Center & Well-Bean Partner to Offer Restoring with Nature
Chippewa Nature Center and Well-Bean have partnered to create a project called Restoring with Nature, encouraging individuals and families to discover themselves in the natural world. Each season, Jen Rapanos,
LMSW, owner of Well-Bean, child and adolescent psychotherapist and registered children’s yoga teacher and mindfulness educator, will provide short mindfulness practices to help unplug from the busyness of life and arrive in the sheer presence of nature. Whether it’s simply standing outside your front door to stretch and take a few full breaths of fresh air, gazing out the window to experience snowflakes gently falling to the ground, or mindfully taking a walk through your neighborhood, the hope is to remind you of the richness of now when you set the intention to spend more mindful moments in the great outdoors.
5 Winter Practices
The first set of five practices focuses on the season of winter. Shortened cold, gray and damp days are hardly elements that motivate us to get outside. We’re more inclined to associate winter as a time for rest and solitude, to repair and prepare for the spring when everything brightens and starts to bloom again. This may all be true, but when we allow the conditions of each season to control our relationship with the natural world, our preferences may result in waiting out the “uncomfortable” for the more “comfortable” and before we know it, we can end up spending days, even months stuck inside. When we consider the growing body of research (www.apa.org/ monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature) that has advanced our understanding of how time in nature improves our mental health and well-being, it seems worthy to reconsider a typical conditioned response that has many of us avoiding the winter climate.
Nature provides the ideal setting to observe our reactions to present moment experiences. Pause for a moment now, and imagine yourself preparing to spend the next 20-minutes outside no matter the conditions. What happens within your own internal landscape? Maybe you notice resistance, slight tension in your body, feelings of dread, maybe your mind creates negative thoughts about how this experience might unfold or excuses for why this is a bad idea? Or maybe, you welcome the proposal, noticing a small burst of energy in your body and your mind is already preparing to bundle up for an adventure?
Consider engaging in one or more of these five Winter Nature-Based Mindfulness Exercises for Individuals and Families, as you work to have year-round interaction with the natural world. Visit www.chippewanaturecenter.org/restoring for steps you can take to fully participate in these activities.
- Mindful Winter Walk – Consider setting an intention to walk each week engaging your senses in the present moment. A simple walk in your yard, at a nearby park, or the trails at Chippewa Nature Center all will do.
- Step Outside to Energize – Take a short break from work or school and notice what happens when you connect with nature by stepping outside into the cool brisk air for a mind-body break.
- Moon Gazing – With less daylight in the winter months, the darkness provides us with more opportunities to witness the moon rise and set. Moon and stargazing is a fun mindfulness experience for the whole family as you look up with wonder and awe concentrating on the here and now.
- Feeling Cold – A negative association with feeling cold is often one of the biggest deterrents to spending time in nature during the winter months. In this exercise, we set the intention to spend just a few minutes outside exploring the sensation of cold, with a curious attitude versus judgment.
- Nature Meditation by a Window – We often go through the motions of daily living without really paying attention to the wonder that’s right outside the window. This simple exercise is an invitation to pause and connect with the natural world from the comfort of your own home or office.
Regardless of your current relationship status with the natural world, taking into account that nature is also the ideal setting for quieting the mind, calming the body, and resetting the nervous system, one might argue that it’s a relationship worth making space for. And beyond our own benefit, research (www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10. 1080/26395916.2020.1844296) suggests that how we think about nature; our affective relationship with and the extent to which we see ourselves as part of nature has an impact on nature’s wellbeing (https://link.springer.com/ article/10.1007/s12671-018-0883-6), too.
**The Chippewa Nature Center is a participant in the STEM Passport. Visit and attend (virtual or in-person) events and receive a $25 gift card courtesy of MiSTEM. Learn more: https://www.stempipeline.com/out-of-school-time/stem-passport-2020-2021/
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