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Introduction to Mindfulness and Nature & Land

Prof Chris Goto-Jones explores the subject of Nature and Land in the field of Mindfulness.
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Hello everyone. We start this new module about the relationship between mindfulness in the natural world. I think it’s gets appropriate for me to acknowledge the land on which I’m sitting now. Today you find me here on a beautiful unseated territories of the [inaudible] peoples, more specifically the lands of the [inaudible]. I’m privileged to live, work, and learn here. This area is also known as Southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. I arrived here from Europe about five years ago now. It’s rather common for many of us to see the natural world as a backdrop or a context for our actions in the world.
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But taking a moment to pause and to reflect on the various ways in which the land lives around us and within us, how our lives are so intertwined with it, can be quite transformative. One of the many things that’s true of this particular land is that it was stolen by European settlers from the indigenous people who had lived here continuously for thousands of years and who continue to live here now under a form of settler occupation. Their relationship with the land remains intimate. I think it’s appropriate to start this module by expressing my respect for these historical and living relationships, which animate the forest in which I’m privileged to set right now.
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I wonder whether you know the history of the land that’s supporting your weight right now. In this module, we’re going to explore mindfulness, nature, and the land from a number of different perspectives. To begin with, we’ll consider the common idea that mindfulness is better or easier to attain if we can get out into nature. Now, this idea already contains a series of presumptions such as, if we need to get out into nature, does this mean that where we are now is not part of the natural world? It also suggests that there’s something about the experience or quality or practice of mindfulness that is enhanced by say, a pristine lake or an isolated mountain hut.
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It’s not clear that this romantic vision of mindfulness is necessary or helpful. Having said that, there seemed to be some genuine evidence backed health benefits to spending regular time in nature. So we’ll consider some of the science there are two. After that, we’ll explore some of the ways in which different traditions of mindfulness have related to the natural world. To what extent does what we have called construct mindfulness risk participating in a colonial model of relationship with the land. Wherever you go, that’s your home, just settle where you are now. When we look at Daoist and Buddhist traditions, what kinds of ideas and practices are there that emphasize our place in the natural world?
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We’ll even include some audio guidance for nature related mindfulness practice in case you’d like to try it out. Then finally, how might the development of a clearer sense of relationship between mindfulness and nature support environmental movements, conservation, or even reconciliation? How might some everyday activities, perhaps gardening, interact with mindfulness in positive or helpful ways? As you’ll see, we’re lucky to have a number of really wonderful guests in this module to help us understand some of the issues in their own words. I hope you’ll enjoy them and learn from them as much as have I.

I explore the subject of Nature and Land in the field of Mindfulness, a first introduction of this week. I will start with acknowledging the ground that I am sitting on.

Do you know the history and heritage of the land that is supporting you right now?

Leiden University

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