How is your mental health holding up during this COVID-19 pandemic?
While some people may be revelling in quiet time spent at home, for many the uncertainty, social isolation, loss of so many first world freedoms and the intensity of being cooped up at home with the entire family while working or remote learning, is causing significant stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
If you haven’t tried meditation or mindfulness before, now could be the perfect time to consider giving it a go - for the whole family's sake!
And you know one of the best places you can meditate?
The private sanctuary of your own backyard.
It's a win win.
Not only will it help to reduce stress and anxiety but it will also provide you with the added bonus of spending time in nature, and exposure to essential doses of vitamin D and fresh air to help boost immunity and your mood to better equip you to navigate these testing times.
Meditation has been a spiritual practice of Eastern religions for thousands of years.
According to Headspace, mindfulness is the quality of being present, consciously breathing and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment – free from distraction or judgement, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. We train in this moment to moment awareness through meditation, allowing us to build the skill of mindfulness so that we can then apply it to everyday life. It is an effective way to clear your head, get grounded, and gain strength in this hectic, chaotic modern world.
Meditation is like an exercise for the brain. Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and actually rewire it to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making and diminish the less positive ones like fear and stress.
There are thousands of studies out there outlining how mindfulness and meditation can positively impact our mental and physical health in as little as just 10 minutes of practice a day.
One particularly comprehensive article on Healthline, reviewed the main scientific health benefits of meditation which include:
- Reduces stress
- Controls anxiety
- Promotes emotional health by improving self-image and providing a more positive outlook on life
- Enhances self-awareness
- Lengthens attention span
- May reduce age-related memory loss
- Can generate kindness by increasing positive feelings and actions towards yourself and others
- May help fight addictions
- Improves sleep
- Can diminish the perception of pain in the brain which can help treat chronic pain when combined with other therapies
- Can decrease blood pressure by reducing strain on the heart
The best part is you can practice meditation or mindfulness anywhere, anytime.
But did you know meditating outside can further increase the benefits?
It’s no secret here at Coolabah Turf we love lawn!
But underpinning our core business purpose to supply sustainable, watersmart, drought tolerant turf, is a passion to provide you with simple solutions to make the most of your patch - because we believe the humble backyard is the cornerstone for a happy, healthy and active lifestyle.
This rings true now more than ever as our backyards play a pivitol role in providing a safe sanctuary for education, fun, connection and calm when all other public park and recreation facilities are temporarily closed.
Spending time outdoors in green space and nature helps calm the mind and promote good feelings so combine this with a meditation or mindfulness practice and you are guaranteed to reap instant rewards.
According to an article on EHE Health online, the physical and mental benefits of outdoor meditation are significant. Doctor Fatima Hussain explains how many studies have demonstrated that exposure to nature not only reduces anxiety and alleviates stress but the fresh air and the vitamin D you’ll enjoy when spending time outside also boosts immunity and mood. According to Harvard Health, this powerful vitamin is known to help with everything from osteoporosis to heart attacks and depression.
Natural light has the added benefit of improving your positive outlook, so being out during the daytime can be great for your mental health. Some studies even suggest that time spent in nature can help with attention-deficiency issues and focus. Researchers also believe that exposure to sunlight and greenspace (plants, trees and turf) helps you to heal faster after surgery or an injury.
Dr. Hussain explains that practicing outdoor mediation is also associated with greater feelings of regeneration and energy. According to some expert yogis, it’s actually easier to practice mindfulness when you’re outdoors because nature inherently calls to one’s contemplative sides.
Beyond outdoor meditation itself, there are a variety of exercises that result in meditative benefits. For instance, Dr. Hussain explains, yoga and tai chi offer the combined impacts of meditation and movement. Put together, these can be influential in encouraging relaxation.
So how can you set up a space to help foster a meditation or mindfulness practice in your backyard?
Here are our 5 tips for creating a tranquil place of calm in your backyard:
Find a quiet space
We all know how difficult it can be to find peace and quiet in this fast paced, white noise world. Particularly during this intense period where the entire family might be home 24/7, so carving out a quiet space in your yard where you can be alone is incredibly important. Try to shield your space from unwanted noises as much as possible using a natural fence of high, foliage-dense trees or an existing structure or wall. Not only will you muffle any nasty interruptions, you’ll also have some added privacy.
Fill it with things you love
Just like when you run a relaxing bath or go for a massage the ambience of the space can make a huge difference to your experience. Plant some gorgeous smelling plants, rub on some beautiful essential oils install a water feature or sculptures of spiritual figures who are important to you – anything that will inspire you and crease a sense or serenity. But make sure whatever you put in your space is low-maintenance. You don’t want to associate your meditation with hard work!
Make it comfortable
If you’re wanting to create a space that will entice to you use it regularly, you don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, too bumpy or lumpy, and too soft or hard. The best natural surface to sit on is a bed of soft grass but if grass isn’t an option or if it’s too cold or wet you could use a hammock, a chair or a bench and add a plush layer with a beach towel, yoga mat or cushion.
Build a meditation path
A gentle meander in your garden can sometimes be all you need to slow the pace of your mind. Create a path of stones, sleepers, gravel or pavers to your place of meditation and you’ll be more than ready to relax by the time you get there.
Use a meditation app
If you’re new to meditation or mindfulness there are a plethora of books, apps and resources out there to get you started. Here are some of our favourite free Apps we recommend you to try:
As mentioned earlier, another great initiative to help kick start your new new meditation practice could be signing up to Mindful in May. Mindful in May is the world’s largest online mindfulness fundraising campaign. It provides education tools and support so you can build a sustainable mediation practice to become mentally fit in one month. As you strengthen your mind, you can also opt to better the world by raising funds to bring clean, safe drinking water to those who need it most. If you haven’t joined yet, it’s not too late. Register here by May 11 and learn to meditate in just 10 minutes a day with some of the best teachers in the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab some headphones and a cushion and go find a quiet, comfortable spot in your backyard to meditate. And let us know if you notice a positive impact on your physical and mental health or send us some photos of your perfect patch of calm for us to share with our Coolabah online community to help inspire others.
And don't forget to breathe.