Mindfulness is a state of full awareness, moment by moment, to all one’s experiences, without judgment or bias. Such awareness encompasses external perceptions as well as internal feelings, emotions, and thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness is equally important for younger and older individuals, as it helps us focus on the things in life that are important to us. In our mature years, however, we can appreciate mindfulness even more.
It teaches us to listen to the younger generations and tune in to the world around us, paying attention without getting distracted by random thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness begins with setting the intention to be more fully in the here and now. After settling into your physical presence, you focus on a sense experience, like the feeling of your breath going in and out.
The main point of the practice is bringing your attention back to its focus as soon as you recognize that you’ve drifted off in thoughts.
The objectives of practicing mindfulness are:
The benefits of mindfulness are well recognized, as shown in this study by The American Psychological Association.
Peace of mind, calmness and stress reduction, the opportunity to work through and out painful thoughts, memories, and worries, as well as acceptance of the changes and challenges life brings are all well established as positive outcomes from mindfulness practice.
There is also a growing acknowledgment of the benefits of deeply experiencing nature. The calming quality of sounds like running water and rustling leaves, the soothing quality of smells like lavender and chamomile, and the emotional comfort of beautiful natural vistas are well documented.
One response to this separation has been the emergence of a program that began in Japan in the early 1990s. It’s called shinrin-yoku, which roughly translates as “forest bathing.” But it doesn’t involve dipping yourself in water.
Rather, you immerse yourself in sense-awareness of the natural environment – sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations.
Like a warm, relaxing bath, you experience the healing qualities of communing with nature. And mindfulness of sense perceptions is the ideal vehicle to truly immerse yourself in that experience.
When the mind is absorbed in mindfulness and bathed in the sense perceptions of nature, you are less focused on your physical and emotional pain, anxiety, and stress. Feeling better creates a positive momentum toward true well-being.
In our frantic world, who better to guide us through these transformative practices than a longtime beloved bear who has perfected the art of simply being? “Just two things to do to truly be Pooh – just be present and kind,” Winnie says.
Please allow me to introduce a book for the whole family. Disney Editions asked me to collaborate in writing this with my sister Nancy, a veteran writer of Disney books.
It tells new stories for our Sixty and Me generation (we grew up delighting in the original stories of Winnie the Pooh and friends) that we can share with our grandchildren who are ready to be introduced to these exciting characters.
A WALK IN THE WOOD: Meditations on Mindfulness with a Bear Named Pooh offers life lessons grounded in the simple act of slowing down, observing what is around us, and being present in our lives, moment by moment.
Winnie the Pooh and his friends live in an enchanted world of natural beauty: The Hundred-Acre Wood. Pooh is the perfect guide to take you and your family on a gently mindful journey.
A simple “Walk in the Wood” can open the door to a life-changing experience – a discovery of profound peace of mind through the deeply gratifying richness of sense perceptions.
Pooh then takes a “Walk in the Wood,” revealing the magic of natural beauty with a childlike spontaneity. He has adventures with friends he meets along the way, encouraging them to be confident, considerate, fearless, cheerful, and grateful.
Winnie the Pooh’s experiences inspire deep insights into life and show the appreciation he feels for his friends and nature. Upon returning home, he reflects on the day and sets his aspirations for the future.
Along with each story comes a description of the perspectives and practices that your whole family can use to learn to deepen the experiences of mindfulness. There is also a guide to help you become immersed in the magic of nature.
As Pooh discovered, mindfully exploring nature and engaging with friends is an ideal path for working with your own habits, attitudes, and emotions, plus cultivating more meaningful relationships with others.
You are welcome to take a glimpse inside this book (and see what people are saying about it) at A Walk in the Wood’s website. As our reviewers say, the book makes for a great family gift for the holidays, which can be reread and enjoyed year in and year out!
What family values are most important to you? How can you enhance them this holiday season? In what ways could you be more mindful and kind with your family? Have you taken enough “me time” in natural surroundings to feel serene and joyful as the holidays approach? When can you spend some time simply communing with nature? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts with our community.