In my attempt to make us a more mindful family, I decided to audit our daily activities to see where we could insert more mindful opportunities. Since I'm more of a fan of thoughtful punishment over corporeal, I figured that a time-out was the best way to force a child to be more thoughtful. At first I made my child say the behavior I thought they should have executed in “said” scenario. Then I made them meditate on the other person’s feelings- with the intent that purposefully thinking of others would increase empathy. Then I made them think of their own feelings. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but none of these really produced any transformational behaviors. I was back where I started again.
That's when I looked out the window... We live near a nature reserve and the soundscape and landscape outside our window is absolutely breathtaking at any time of year. I found myself caught in a moment of “being in the moment”, mindfulness. That’s when the lightbulb came on… The next time I administered a time-out, I made my kids stare out the window. The only requirement was to stand quietly and look and listen. They loved it. I loved it. After the time-out was over we talked about what they observed. And sometimes, an unsolicited apology came through... and it felt genuine. What the hell happened?
“Ok so, I live in an urban environment that isn’t some breathtaking, awe inspiring photoesque backdrop…. What does a parent in a big city do?” The same. Most big cities have birds, people, plants, rain, snow, wind, insects. “Nature” does not have to be a mountain, an ocean front view, a forest. Watching what happens outdoors, staring at an indoor plant, or looking out at the family lawn/garden is just as good.
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind (1995) Roszak, Gomes, Kanner, Brown, Hillman
Ecotherapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our Earth (1996) Dr. Howard Clinebell
Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind (2009) Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist