Summer is a great time to set goals, pursue personal interests, and have fun—it’s also the perfect time to boost your executive function processes by practicing mindfulness techniques outdoors.
The summer is often thought as “time off.” However, thinking of summer as a time to do nothing is potentially harmful to our students and ourselves. While we should all take advantage of the summer to unplug and unwind, we can also use the time constructively to recharge and prepare for the new year.
Many of us will be heading outdoors—often to the beach or the mountains—to relax and escape the summer heat. Humans are naturally drawn to spending time in nature. In fact, the biophilia hypothesis states that when humans are in a natural setting they are happier with less worries and experience a boost in their biological functioning.
But why not take this natural boost one step further? Nature is a great place to practice mindfulness techniques. Perhaps because of the benefits of spending time in nature, many meditation practitioners center their work in natural settings. When you are outdoors, at the beach or some other natural setting, you’re psychologically and physically prepared to meditate, so why not take advantage?
The next time you’re relaxing at the beach or mellowing out near a mountain stream, take a moment to concentrate on your breathing or try a simple visualization exercise. By building these skills over the summer, you’ll be able to prepare mindfulness strategies that you can use when you’re back in the workaday world.
- Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director