Ever wondered why meditation retreats and monasteries of all spiritual traditions are often found in the mountains or deep in the forest? There are many benefits of meditation in nature—it’s a place where wisdom and perception come alive. Meditating outdoors activates our senses, making our practice more alert and wakeful. At the same time, the usual distractions seem far away and somehow less important. Many meditators find it easier to let go of their worries and their electronic devices when they’ve got such a satisfying alternative: mindfully communing with nature.

Meditating with Nature

In Asia, the accomplished meditators of yore believed that isolation in the wilderness was conducive to advanced mindfulness training. They would retreat to hermitages carved into mountains or hidden among the flora of the jungle and spend time in deep contemplation. Many ancient poems and chants evoke the wonder of such retreats. A verse by Han-shan, a 7th century hermit who lived on Cold Mountain in China, describes this experience beautifully:

Today I sat before the cliff,
Sat a long time till mists had cleared.
A single thread, the clear stream runs cold;
A thousand yards the green peaks lift their heads.
White clouds—the morning light is still;
Moonrise—the lamp of night drifts upward;
Body free from dust and stain,
What cares could trouble my mind?

(From Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the Tang Poet Han-shan, translated by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press)

Photographs by CRUSH Photography©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from Mindworks

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Key information

The twittering, wheezing song and flash of yellow and green as it flies, makes this finch a truly colourful character. Nesting in a garden conifer, or feasting on black sunflower seeds, it is a regular garden visitor, able to take advantage of food in rural and urban gardens. Although quite sociable, the Greenfinch may squabble among themselves or with other birds at the bird table.

Greenfinch populations declined during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but increased dramatically during the 1990s. A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

What they eat:

Seeds and insects.

Measurements:

Length: 15cm Wingspan: 26cm Weight: 28g

Images by CRUSH Photography©

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Want to make the most of your outdoor space but don’t know where to start? Here’s the RSPB’s ten easy ways to help turn your space into a brilliant place to relax and enjoy that will also help wildlife too! And the best bit is you don’t have to do all ten to make a big difference.

Images by CRUSH Photography©

Follow this link written by the RSPB to find out more.

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The beautiful mandarin duck was introduced from the Far East, where it can still be found in China, Japan, Korea and parts of Russia. It escaped, or was deliberately released, from captivity in the UK. They are actually quite shy birds, often hiding beneath overhanging willows and usually only forming small flocks.

How to identify

A beautiful, unmistakable duck: male mandarins have elaborate plumage with orange plumes on their cheeks, orange ‘sails’ on their back, and pale orange sides; the female is dull in comparison, with grey heads, brown backs and white eyestripe.

Distribution

Introduced from China and now found on park lakes and other wetlands with overhanging trees, mainly in South East England, but also in North England, Wales and Scotland.

Habitats

Did you know?

The mandarin duck nests in holes in trees, sometimes high up and a long way from the water. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female flies down and tries to coax the young to jump from the nest. Once they have left the tree and made their way back to water, the father will return to the family and help to protect the ducklings.

All Images by CRUSH Photography©

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2021 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extract taken from The Wildlife Trusts

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