Connecting to Nature
a Harmony wellbeing event for the Youth Board and Trainees of the London Wildlife Trust
21 September 2022
As Summer turned to Autumn, a group of 16-25 year olds met with Harmony in Health in the beautiful Camley Street Nature Reserve next to the St Pancras Basin on the Regents Canal in London. The aim? A wellbeing session working together to explore our connection to ourselves, to others and to the world around us - in nature!
This inspiring group of young people, volunteering on the Youth Board of the London Wildlife Trust or currently training to work in conservation, all devote their time and energy to protecting wildlife in London and to advocate for access to nature for all. Passionate about being in nature, they all shared their personal experiences about how it helps them and welcomed the chance to deepen their connection to it.
In an environment of terrifying increases in young people’s mental health rates and inadequate support nationally, the need for natural help is great. The links between nature and wellbeing are now more recognised and the benefits of being mindfully aware in nature are many. But how to do this simply and practically?
We explored natural embodiment techniques and movements, drawing on the Alexander Technique, for releasing tension, grounding and freeing the breath. Connecting inwardly to their bodies, the participants felt more energised and receptive to what was around them.
“I felt much taller and lighter but still connected to the earth. I noticed my breathing changed - it became easier.” Destiny
Choosing something from the reserve to inspire them, small groups discussed their own connection to nature with others and many expressed the special quality of calm they sometimes find from spending time outside.
“When I walk outside I feel that everything will be ok. I also find it when I garden.” Lily
A poignant moment was as twilight fell, the group gathered in the heart of the reserve under the trees, to ignite their senses and find a quiet moment of presence. Often, people notice what is around them primarily with their eyes; sometimes people do not notice anything apart from the thoughts in their head. Together we explored each of our senses, smelling the woodchips, listening to the birds amongst the surrounding London traffic, feeling the ground, savouring raw chocolate and finding some peace simply being.
“I felt insignificant - but in a good way! There is so much more than me - I am just a tiny part of something bigger” Kumron
Walking silently around the paths and lakes, the bats joined us and the young people found their own insights:
“At first, I thought there was not enough light. As I waited patiently I began to adjust. I noticed the lines on the leaves, the ripples on the water, my own feet walking…” Mercedes
It was a real pleasure to spend time with committed and open young people, and to hear their impressions, discovering how they can feel more at home - in themselves, with others, and in Nature.
“We are Nature. It just makes me happy!” Morag
Julia Outlaw and Sara Khoroosi from the Harmony in Health Team facilitated this wellbeing event.