Outdoor Mindfulness – In nature, through movement and stillness, with awareness.
Mountain retreats during the summer are a great way to enjoy being in the mountains, have fun exercising and doing something which has lasting health and well-being benefits. Combining the exhilaration of hiking with the stillness of meditation and the grounding of yoga, you will journey not only through the wonderful Monterosa in the Italian Alps but also explore internally your mind and body. Teachings on mindfulness are given each day mostly while in nature walking the forest trails and hiking the rugged terrain above the tree line. We will have a daily schedule of early morning yoga followed by a sitting meditation. After breakfast we hike / walk during the day with mindfulness teachings along the way. On return the afternoons end with a light restorative yoga practice and a shorter meditation sitting. Our evenings are spent enjoying local quality Italian food and the social company of others.
Whose it for?
Ideally suited to people of all ages who want to learn more about mindfulness in an active outdoor setting. You will be active, enjoy walking and perhaps yoga and have a willingness to learn more about yourself and others through outdoor activities. You may have an existing daily practice although this is not essential; the week is suitable for those who already practice and those who want to learn and are curious about how a meditation and mindfulness can foster well-being in all respects, mind, body and spirit.
What you get out of it.
- Extend your appreciation of nature and foster connections to its energy.
- Experience the exhilaration and vitality of exercising in the outdoors.
- Learn new meditation practices and renew your approaches to sitting.
- Engage in mindfulness activities and share with others your experiences.
- Explore how mindfulness can support you in being centred and grounded.
- Energise yourself and learn ways of maintaining your energy and focus in everyday life.
- Enjoy being part of a group of like-minded people and grow in one’s capacity for awareness, tolerance, compassion, resilience, clarity, insight and well-being.
A bit of background.
We take a holistic view of well-being, one which embraces the philosophy of an integrated person where the mind, body and spirit are inextricably intertwined. The context is, ‘growing in our capacities’ for awareness, compassion, insight and wisdom. The environment is outdoors, in nature where the elements of the natural world are prevalent. The activities are walking, hiking, yoga, mindful movement, stillness and meditation through which we explore ourselves and our relationship with self and others. The spiritual self, as well as the mind and body, is essential to our personal and professional growth. Seeking a soothing of the integrated self is a natural phenomenon, one which humans have done consciously and often without knowing it for thousands of years, there’s a primordial drive to sooth and recuperate. We acknowledge this and view seeking quietness, stillness and being grounded and centred as natural instincts. As William Bloom describes in his ground-breaking teachings that meditation is a natural behaviour;
‘In this time alone, quietly in peaceful solitude, they develop a deeper, subtler awareness of …everything…nature, themselves, all that is, the mystery, the wonder, the field of consciousness…’.
Experiencing with awareness the nature of thoughts, that they arise, exist and pass, is hugely liberating. The realisation and acceptance that we are not our thoughts, that they shape our lives but do not need to shape our identity, is often a breakthrough. The stillness of mind arises from not interfering with it, not engaging with it; instead we observe, notice and witness, that which we observe, and our reactions to that which we observe. A preeminent, pioneering teacher, Rob Nairn, which I had the privilege to learn from often reminded us that mindfulness is awareness and is, ‘Noticing what is happening when it is happening without preference.’
On Outdoor Mindfulness retreats we start from where we are, how and where we find ourselves, and explore our inner world through our relationship with nature. Developing our awareness of body, we walk and hike through the mountains and on the yoga-mat renewing our powers of noticing the body, the ways it moves and how our minds react and respond.