Mindful Outdoor Experience
A mindful outdoor experience (MOE) is an opportunity to invite present moment awareness or mindfulness, to connect more deeply with our own breath, the land, and one another.
A MOE starts by bringing our awareness to the spot we gather by means of centering breaths, slow, flowing movements and stretches. Such gentle movements begin to connect our body and mind as we open our senses to the land around us.
We continue through mindfully walking in social silence. We will not be going on a hike, per se, but will allow time to saunter along the earth. Upon finding your sit spot, we will practice sensory meditation. When you connect to nature through all five classic senses, you draw on benefits that nature provides.
We will then gather in council for a time to listen and share with one another our observations, thoughts, or feelings about your experience. Verbal sharing is always optional as your presence alone is a notable gift.
Mindful Outdoor Experience for Children
Children and adolescent screen time use continues to rise and time in nature continues to decrease. Time in nature decreases stress and worry. Time in nature increases creativity, feeling connected, and feeling good. We will play yoga, breathe, notice what we are grateful for, walk, sit and share our experience.
The great news is that even small bits of time in nature can impact our health. There is a vast amount of data to show time in nature: lowers blood pressure, lowers stress, improves concentration and memory, improves pain tolerance, increases energy, lower blood sugar levels, increase anti-cancer protein production, and increases the count of your body's own natural killer (NK) cells (type of white blood cell) (Li, 2018).
Many trees (e.g., pine, cedar, spruces, conifers, oak) emit phytoncides (Li, 2018). Phytoncides are a part of the communication pathways among trees: the way they talk to one another, Data has shown that exposure to phytoncides significantly increased NK cells, significantly decreased levels of stress hormones, decreased tension, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and confusion, lifts mood, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and decreases sympathetic nervous activity while increasing parasympathetic nervous activity (Li, 2018).
Rachel and Stephen Kaplan's Attention Restoration Theory (ART) states that while exposure to nature is enjoyable, nature can help improve focus and the ability to concentrate (Ohly, White, Wheeler, Bethel, Ukoumunne, Nikolaou, & Garside, 2016). Being in nature provides a balance to the directed attention needed for screens, assignments, and work by providing an environment rich in soft fascination. Soft fascination (gazing at stars, clouds, trees) as done during a MOE allows time for reflection and relief.
Additional Benefits May Include:
Meditation/Breathing Yoga - Children/Adolescents Nature
Calms and relaxes mind and body Increases strength & flexibility Reduces stress
Increases clarity and focus Increases mobility & stability Increases attention
Increases energy and stamina Improves circulation Increases self-discipline
Decreases tension, pain Improves immune function Increases exe. function skills
Strengthens immune system Improves physical fitness Increases social connection
Est mind/body connection Improves balance & coordination Increases creativity
Elevates mood Improves focus & concentration Increases balance
Est. present moment awareness Increases mind/body awareness Increases gratitude