Guest post by Karen Liebenguth, Green Space Coaching & Mindfulness Training. This post is part of NOW’s series of blog posts and videos for World Environment Day.
“A good walk puts things right,” as my friend Jane once said after a long walk in nature. I couldn’t agree more.
Following a day out in nature I feel much more in tune with myself. I have a clearer perspective on things, I feel more spacious inside, and so often I have new ideas for work or for things that I’d like to try out, explore or do differently in my life.
Being in green space has a therapeutic quality. We’re reconnecting to our roots, our source of origin: Nature. What’s more, I’ve discovered, the more we connect with green space, the more we want to look after it.
The outdoors is very much integral to how I work. I’ve been working with clients outdoors for eight years now, offering coaching while walking or team building workshops in London’s parks and green spaces. People really respond to my approach; 90% of those I work with prefer to be coached outdoors, in all weathers, in all seasons.
When clients arrive in the park for their session and we start walking across the grass, they often release a sigh of relief, they slow down and say that they feel calmer and more grounded.
The open sky, the natural light, the trees, the flowers, the wildlife, the fresh air… When we allow ourselves to open up to these natural surroundings, when we sense the outer space, we often feel more spacious inside, we can breathe more deeply, we slow down, our mind and heart open up and from that inner space new insights can emerge. All of a sudden we are able to look at important things in our life from a different perspective, perhaps gain a better understanding of some things or find a new way forward.
I’ve also noticed when working outdoors that people often remark on how they’d forgotten how beautiful their local park is, or that they are making plans to get out in nature more. They’ve reconnected with nature and at the end of a session have a deep sense of appreciation for the environment, for the green space they’ve found themselves in.
When we are in green space and experience the emotional, psychological and physical benefits of being in nature, something else happens. In feeling the soothing effect of nature, we feel connected to nature, and acknowledge that we are, in fact, a part of nature. And when we feel part of nature, we naturally want to care for it.
So being in green space is not just good for us, it can be good for green spaces. When we pay attention to how we feel when we are in nature, we change our relationship to nature, we begin to sense its intrinsic value for all life, including ours. And when we acknowledge this feeling then we are more likely to want to protect, care and honour nature.
There are many ways we can do this – and World Environment Day is a great prompt for us to do more. Here are just a few ideas:
- After a walk in the park or in the countryside we can pause for a moment, look around and give our surroundings a nod of gratitude – this can be done internally or literally through a gesture.
- Sign up for some voluntary work in nature as a way of honoring and giving something back to nature. You can do this on your own, with your friends, family or with work colleagues. There are many charities that offer voluntary activities such as Thrive, The Conservation Volunteers, Trees for Cities or Mane Chance Sanctuary, to name just a few.
- Plant bee friendly flowers in your garden or window box. I have been doing this for a few years now and it gives me such a sense of delight and satisfaction.
- Take part in the Great British Bee Count using Friends of the Earth’s fab app.
- Get involved in the Network of Wellbeing’s wonderful #GrowShareCare competition; an easy, active and enjoyable way of sharing ideas on reconnecting with the environment.
- Check out Empty Office Day, which is calling on companies and organisations to plan quality time outdoors on 17th June each year, helping them to discover, value and promote the benefits of integrating the outdoors into the working day, as an aid to creative thinking, problem solving and stress reduction.
These are just a few ideas. How will you mark World Environment Day?
Please share your ideas and reflections in the comments below.
Huge thanks to Karen for sharing this post. If you’d like to have a chat about Empty Office Day, 1:1 coaching while walking or team building in nature you can get in touch with Karen.