Thank you Nic Peate for this weeks blog post :-) Nic works for Brecon & District Mind as a Recovery Support Worker & My Generation Facilitator. Nic also runs the Wednesday allotment group in Brecon and is a Gardener herself....
Spring this year has been particularly special, with all its promise, renewal and beauty. For me, the buds, bulbs and seeds containing the blueprint for new life are very sustaining and fill me with hope... The new growth keeps happening despite all the difficulties. This year the silver lining to our cloud has been that many of us have really enjoyed the weather and tuned in to things close to home like the bird song. We have focused on things that have not had our attention for a while.
Near to where I live there is piece of woodland owned by a neighbour that I am helping to regenerate. Much of it was replanted about 20 years ago. Some of the trees were becoming completely swamped by brambles and other plants such as the invasive Himalayan balsam. It has to be said that we grow a particularly fine bramble around these parts! & they definitely have their place however, some trees were being killed off by them. So I embarked on clearing paths, removing some of the brambles, checking very carefully first for any nesting birds.
I uncovered some beech, birch, wild cherry, oak, ash & mountain ash trees giving them more space & light. In the spaces I planted some more trees. Underneath some of the bigger trees were some grassy glades with beautiful bluebells, ferns & other wildflowers, one day it will be a fantastic woodland. So this strange year of 2020 I will remember, not just as the year of the terrible Coronavirus but also as the year that I had the opportunity to enjoy & enrich a little bit of our local environment.
This weeks blog post is by Ros Sandhu, Brecon & District Mind's new Mums Matter Facilitator. Ros is also a Mindfulness teacher & founder of Brecon Mindfulness. www.breconmindfulness.com
As a new member of the Brecon and District Mind team, I am delighted to have the chance to write a blog for the Green Minds Project’s new website. I am a new Facilitator on the Mums Matter project and I am also a Mindfulness teacher. I was brought up in a city and until recently, I had always chosen to live in urban areas. My family and I moved to Brecon 7 years ago so I’m relatively new to living in the countryside and, for the record, I feel very much a novice ‘Green Mind’. I am, however, very keen to learn, and perhaps equally importantly I am completely captivated by nature’s healing powers and its potential to improve our wellbeing.
The simple idea of mindful walking is that we focus our attention on what it feels like to be walking – the feeling of our feet on the ground, and some of the sights, smells and sounds that are unfolding around us- each step is a moment of arriving in our feet and our bodies. When you think about it, this is very different to our usual habits when walking; we tend to walk with a destination or goal in mind ( e.g I will walk from a to b, or I will walk 30 minutes etc) Mindful walking can be incredibly soothing because it can take us out of our heads and away from thinking and worrying and move us more into our sensing mind when we are listening, seeing and smelling.
One of my favourite places to walk is along the canal. I think it is to do with being near both the still water of the canal and the moving water of the River Usk. Both reflect aspects of human experience – the potential for stillness that is in us all, alongside the ebbing and flowing of life. In certain places the trees’ canopies at this time of year are almost womb-like, in the way that they surround me - the leaves seem to grow thicker and greener by the day. I can allow nature to talk to me and wonder what she is telling me….
As I walk, I feel safe, cocooned, almost held by nature. I am surrounded by reminders that everything is allowed – this is particularly powerful when I focus my attention on the sounds of the birdsong., I am reminded that, as Rumi wrote, “ I want to sing like birds sing, not worrying about who will listen or what they will think’. As far as I know – scientists are not in agreement about why exactly birds sing but I am so glad they do. I can hear the innocent sweet tunes of the Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens and Great Tits, this plays alongside the definitive alto of the woodpigeons and the magpies. Then there is the are assertive songs of the Crows and Jackdaw coupled with the random outburst of the pheasant and finally my favourite noise at the moment, the persistent percussion of the woodpecker. It all sounds beautiful even though it is unplanned, spontaneous and unfolding moment by moment – just like life necessarily is.
Life during a pandemic, is clearly a fertile ground for our thinking to go into overdrive as we all worry about our health and the health of those we love, and as we try and predict the future. For this reason, I have found the time I spend outside each day to be the most helpful thing for me, when trying to live healthily through this period, oh and I have also noticed that birds still sing in the rain :-)
Hello, Jess here at Green Minds. Today I would love to share with you my experiences of listening to the dawn chorus along the River Wye.......I hope the recording will transport you to life at 5am along the river bank, and maybe even inspire you to listen in to the dawn chorus one morning this month :-)
Last week on the 3rd May I made it up and out for the dawn chorus and to join in celebration of International Dawn Chorus Day. An annual event taking place on the first Sunday in May. I slowly wended my way down through a quiet woodland, the bright white of the hawthorn blossom lighting my way, until I reached the river. Under a canopy of oak, ash & sycamore I sat and listened in wonder, absorbing the chorus that surrounded me, watching the sky's gradual fade into light. I find it deeply calming and restorative tuning into bird song. For me, finding stillness in a woodland, or sat quietly at the rivers edge can provide the immersive experience, and an antidote to the challenging times we find ourselves in like no other.
The birds are at their busiest this time of year, the males protecting their territories, singing their hearts out in the hope of attracting a female companion. Many of the birds we see and hear this spring have arrived after long and often perilous journeys back to the UK to breed and I am reminded again how very precious they are. During this time of lockdown, with much less noise and traffic on the roads and in the sky we have a wonderful opportunity to tune in to the natural sounds around us, and we don't have to go very far. Even from our beds or within our immediate outdoor spaces we can hear the birds singing.
At this time of year sunrise is around 5.20am, so if you are up about an hour before then you will be able to hear the dawn chorus in all it's glory....(It's an early start, but I guarantee it's worth it!)
The audio recording above is from my dawn chorus walk along the river Wye last Sunday.
I'll sign out with this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver.
Such Singing in the Wild Branches
"It was spring
and I finally heard him
among the first leaves –
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness –
and that's when it happened,
when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree –
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,
and the sands in the glass
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward
like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing––
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed
not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfect blue sky – all of them
And, of course, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last
For more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then––open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away."
- Mary Oliver