Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Nature-Birding-Meditation Connection.

The human mind is amazing when it comes to creativity and problem solving. Trying to quiet our minds so that we can relax is a bigger challenge. 

 I recognized at a young age that a walk through the woods can be an effective way to unwind. The sound of the water traveling over rocks in a stream, the chorus of birds singing at dawn in the spring   or even the sound of our own footsteps have a soothing, hypnotic effect. I didn't realize it at the time but nature walks are a form of meditation.

As I grew older I started bringing along binoculars and bird-watching during my hikes. It requires you to concentrate on identifying birds while observing behavior and appreciating their beauty. That focus required for bird-watching is another way to unwind the overactive mind. It's difficult to be stressed out when you're marveling at the sight of 2 Bald Eagles perched out in the open on the branch of a dead tree! (I know that birding is a cooler term than bird-watching but I feel more like a bird-watcher than a birder). 

It would be nice if I could go hiking or bird-watching any time that I wanted but that just isn't practical. More recently,  I learned about meditation. There are many forms of meditation which I won't go into here. I use a simple method which requires sitting in a quiet area, closing your eyes, and listening to the sound of your own breathing. When the mind starts to wander, just return your attention to the sound of your breathing. It sounds too easy to be true but it works well for me (most of the time). I've found that playing the sound of rain or a waterfall through my laptop speakers makes the process a little easier and it brings me right back to nature again.

There is another interesting connection between birding and meditation. Years ago, birding was an activity considered to be a nerdy type of activity that very few people had interest in. These days it has become much more mainstream. The same can be said for meditation. Today I think most people know someone who is into yoga, meditation, or birding. 

So it was my walks in the woods as a youngster that it eventually led to interests in birding and meditation. It seems to me there is a natural connection between them and I'm glad that I don't have to choose between the 3.


Jen Sanford said...

Fantastic eagle photo! And I hate to break it to you, but I think birdwatching/birding might still be considered a bit nerdy!

Larry said...

Jen-thanks. That is true but the number of birders has definitely increased over the years.

June said...

Very interesting post!

France Paulsen said...

Yes, this has been my experience as well. I have found along the way that being out with nature brings me back to my inner self and that process produces peace and relaxation. I think I'm going to go out there now. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Agreed on all counts, Larry. Great post.


troutbirder said...

My own experience exactly. Well said, Larry. I even joined a yoga class at Mayo Clinic to find some of the same effects. Bird watching/hiking has been especially difficult, however, this ugly ugly record breaking winter and without my hiking companion Baron even worse.

Cathy said...

Oh, but give me a walk in the woods if at all possible.

i've tried meditation. It's so hard to turn off that stream of thoughts that want to go their own way:)