On Mindfulness

On The Mindful Contemplation of Nature.

We share a simple and inclusive 3-step meditation technique and practice we call the Mindful Contemplation of Nature, but we are not a permanent, long-term residential community. Mindfulness is proven to have significant benefits on our psychological, mental and cognitive well-being, and  what we offer is Mindfulness in Nature, for people already accustomed to some form of meditation. We believe that the experience of rural living, and The Contemplation of Nature offer powerful tools for personal transformation.

Mindful Contemplation of Nature Sessions.
Contemplation Sessions can be held anywhere, as part of a day-trip or program at the center- or at any existing event in India and overseas. They are often built into an existing conference programs, or corporate team building programs. These short sessions are a great way to bring people together and connect meaningfully. The sessions are experiential orientation sessions into the 3 simple meditation techniques for The Mindful Contemplation of Nature. (See below).

Previously, the Foundation has organized contemplation events or side events in major conferences, such as The World Parks Congress and events at Olympic Park Sydney. They have been held in major organizational settings for senior management, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization HQ in Rome. Our contemplation practice is not connected to any faith and sessions have also been held in Churches and Temple complexes. The session in the church at Santiago the Chile was so well received that the entire concept has been translated in Spanish and published as a 90-page book in 2016, ‘La Contemplacion De La Naturaleza’.

Three Simple Meditation Techniques.
The Mindful Contemplation of Nature is a meditative practice done in association with the natural environment. Don’t worry if you have tried meditation before and ‘failed’- it’s neither a competition nor a goal! The more you practice ‘getting lost in inner joy’ daily, when walking in out in nature or at home, the more effect your meditation brings – and the more you start to feel the force of subtle positive emotions.

We recommend at least 30 minutes each time, as scientific research has pointed out that after about 22 minutes of a restful mind, a much deeper physiological relaxation starts to take place. This finding has ushered in a mindfulness revolution across the world, and given rise to several techniques such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Contemplation of Nature as we teach it involves three very simple aspects: Soft Gaze, Detachment, and Sympathetic attention.You can summarize these steps in your mind as “Observe, Accept, and Send Love”

1. Observe with a Soft Gaze.

One chooses a view to observe; this could be a landscape, a body of water, an agricultural field, a garden or a just a point in one’s view, such as a hedge or a tree. If there is no access to outdoor nature, one can choose to contemplate on a plant, a pebble or sea shell. The attention is placed on the view or the object and when the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the object in focus. When you learn this practice, it can be done anywhere – on a bus or train, for your body and mind to enter a state of relaxation.

2. Accept with Gentle Detachment.

Detachment is distance from your own needs, desires, concerns and outcomes in the process of contemplation. You stop judging yourself and the process. To put it in classical terms, this is the  ‘transcendental’ part of meditation. You simply relax and observe without judgement.

3. Send Love with Sympathetic Attention.

This comes from the field of ‘love and kindness meditation’. This practice, in which one directs compassion and wishes for well-being toward real or imagined other, is designed to create changes in emotion, motivation, and behaviour and to promote positive feelings of kindness towards the self and others. You remain detached, whilst maintaining a steady soft gaze full of connectedness and compassion.

Why Mindfulness and Meditation?
Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to have numerous physiological and psychological benefits, but meditation is not meant to be a quick fix for all our problems, or an all-soothing balm that brings instant well-being and enlightenment! Meditation and Mindfulness can contribute to a clarification of one’s true values, and motivate behaviors that are consistent with those values. The aim of the Center is to offer natural surroundings and a serene organic way of life that is conducive for peaceful reflection.

Personal Growth.
Personal growth, relationship, and community values are just a few examples that can be approached through mindful living. For long-term practitioners of meditation, dealing with negative thoughts, feelings, and sensations is very natural and part of the process, but for beginners, it can be an overpowering experience. When practicing the contemplation of nature, the mind slows down and thoughts about things we generally take for granted float to the surface. These can be very intense.

While many of these experiences are more common after a lengthy meditation retreat, they can be experienced by more casual meditators as well. We believe that meditation practitioners can learn to treat meditation ‘pains’ in a more well-supported way but the best way is for the person to be part of a community.

New research by Dr. Willoughby Britton and her colleague at Brown University, Dr. Jared R. Lindahl, have identified seven experience domains for meditation; perceptual, affective (emotional), somatic, cognitive, motivational, social, and sense of self. Become conscious of inner states in these domains can be challenging. But what may seem to be a distressing experience of development in meditation practice are often considered in some traditions to be a leap forward, or a breakthrough.

We advise that visitors coming to the Vrikshalaya Center to have a connection with an existing meditation teacher and community back home, before and after their visit to us.

The Relaxation Response.
A mind body revolution is under way in the medical world. Only when the mind can reach a certain level of calmness, can deeper states of physiological rest be triggered; for the metabolism, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate regulation. Referred to as The Relaxation Response, this state plays a vital role in preventing many diseases and maintenance of mind-body health. The Relaxation Response has also made inroads in treatment of various types of diseases and is being treated as a revolution in reducing the cost of the health care.

Conscious Living.
As a modern, connected culture, we need to cultivate an attitude of care, to understand where the things that sustain us come from and go to. Our resources are not limitless – food, water and energy doesn’t just appear, just as clothes and products do not just appear, just as all our waste also has inherent challenges.
All our actions have an impact and an intrinsic cost that someone somewhere must pay. Every person who gets to experience the inherent nature of physical work, interdependency and interconnectivity first-hand, can keep that connection in their mind, and impact their world and everyday choices in a profound way.

Community and team-building.
Mindfulness is a powerful personal and group experience, even for complete beginners. Community and group-based mindfulness meditation training activities has a proven track record of developing team cohesion, improving morale and motivation, while making a substantial contribution to personal growth and stress management. Moreover, the sessions are also just really fun and enjoyable, and the more you practice the more satisfying it is, as you experience the positive effects.

Cognitive Abilities.
The Foundation welcomes professionals working with cognitive health, MBSR/ MBCT instructors, and Mindfulness-Based Program Professionals and clinicians. We are not a facility that works directly with patients. Our environment plays an important role in the way we think, behave and work. A study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that individuals with a closer connection to nature are more innovative-oriented and have higher holistic perspectives. Providing encouragement and opportunities for employees to foster a deeper connection to the natural world can enhance productivity, positive mood and cognitive abilities and help people make significant lifestyle changes to reduce stress.

Nature contemplation and immersion in nature can contribute to ‘mindfulness based stress reduction’ (MBSR), which already has a proven track record for improving well-being and psychological health. Meditation needs to last for more than 20 minutes for MBSR to occur. Peace of mind, well-being and mindfulness are all interrelated and can be induced though a connection with natural surroundings and community.

Mental Health.
An experimental study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides one example of the positive impact nature has on mental health. The researchers found that participants who went on a 90-minute walk through a natural environment, when compared with an urban environment, reported lower levels of rumination (repetitive thoughts focused on negative aspects of the self). Given the well-established link between rumination and the risk for mental illness, connecting with nature on a regular basis can be a pathway to improved mental health.
Exposure to the natural world decreases negative behavior and states (e.g. aggression, anxiety, depression, illness) and increases positive states (e.g. health, cognitive capacity, peace of mind, subjective well-being, quality of life, and positive affect, etc.).
Five potential mediators have been studied: encouragement to exercise; facilitating social contact; recovery from stress and attention fatigue; encouraging optimal development in children; and providing opportunities for personal development and a sense of purpose.

The Foundation welcomes professionals working within mental health, MBSR/ MBCT instructors, and Mindfulness-Based Program Professionals and clinicians. We are not a facility that directly takes mental health patients.

We have run experiential sessions in The Mindful Contemplation of Nature at conferences and other events.
For more information please contact us.