I met Catherine Morey-Nase at one of our Content Kin workshops in Melbourne this year, and was immediately drawn to her calm presence, smiling eyes and warm words. With a creative and sensitive heart laying quiet for many years, Catherine used her training in psychology and law to work in the corporate sector across the world. With her success also came anxiety, and little voice saying there is something else. Through meditation, the day came that her heart took charge and she started her journey to honour her creativity and sensitivity. Today Catherine has her own business, The Wellbeing Corner and is a meditation teacher and mindful hiking leader. Given this crazy time of year, I asked Catherine to tell us a little bit about her journey, the power of meditation to living of joyful life and how mindful hiking can help those ‘non-meditators’.
You can join Catherine on a mindful hike by booking your spot here. What a great gift for yourself or a loved one. xx
Stop and Smell the Eucalypts
By Catherine Morey-Nase
I have always loved being in nature. It is in nature that I feel an almost instantaneous sense of calm and peace, coupled with an intense awareness of being alive. It is also where I feel happiest and most at ease. One of my most memorable childhood experiences was hiking The Overland Track, a six-day hike from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair in Tasmania, with my parents when I was 12. I loved being far away from civilisation, carrying a large pack on my back. I was captivated by the breath-taking beauty of the ever-changing landscape; scrambling to the top of Cradle Mountain; sitting by the campfire at night under tall, majestic gum-trees. It was a great adventure, one that cemented a life-long love of hiking and the outdoors.
Later, during my twenties, I spent far less time in nature than I would have liked. I didn’t know many people who were interested in hiking and I was too shy to join a hiking group. It was around this time that I started meditating as a way of relieving the increasing stress and anxiety I was experiencing, which was not helped by spending less time in nature. For me, meditation and being in nature are the two things that, without fail, calm my mind and relax my body.
It is not surprising that research has shown, and is continuing to show, the healing and restorative power of both meditation and spending time in nature. In addition to other benefits, they both increase wellbeing; help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression; promote creativity; assist with recovery from mental fatigue; help restore attention; boost the brain’s ability to think; and re-engage the senses.
Meditation and spending time in nature compliment each other perfectly. When we meditate we hold our attention on a chosen object of focus, usually through the conscious engagement of one or more of our senses. What better place then to bring conscious awareness to our senses than in nature? Not only do we deepen our connection to nature we also relax our bodies and calm our minds at the same time. A significant shift occurs in the brain when we use our senses well, resulting in a more relaxed, more enjoyable, more present state of mind.
Being in nature, enjoying the company of others, as well as moments of silence to consciously engage the senses – to literally stop and smell the roses (or eucalypts!) – is what Mindful Hiking Days are all about. I wanted to create a welcoming, accessible way for women to take some much needed time out from their busy lives to immerse themselves in nature in a really beneficial and enjoyable way.
While I’m a big advocate of developing a regular seated meditation practice, doing so can be challenging and, of course, it’s not for everyone. Short, simple mindfulness exercises incorporated into an activity such as hiking, is an easy, enjoyable and surprisingly effective way of being more mindful.
With the long, warm days of summer upon us it is a wonderful time to spend more time in nature. Next time you’re at the beach, in the bush or at your local park, take a moment to stop and tune into your breath by paying attention to the rise and fall of your chest and stomach; feel the sun on your face and the breeze against your skin; tune into the sounds and smells around you. Immerse yourself in your surroundings for a few moments by consciously engaging your senses and I promise that you will feel calmer, happier and more relaxed as a result!