Live Life In The Slow Lane
Cheshire Life|January 2020
Making space in your schedule for a mindful hobby may just be the key to a happier and healthier 2020 – take it from five people who know
Emma Mayoh

‘Connection with nature improves our wellbeing’

AMANDA VESTY, FROM ALSAGER, FOUNDER OF ANCIENT AND SACRED TREES AND JACK IN THE GREEN RUNS FOREST BATHING AND OTHER MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION SESSIONS

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, was introduced as a national health program in Japan to tackle stress – that’s how powerful it is. It involves breathing deeply and absorbing the atmosphere of the forest as a way of yielding calming, rejuvenating and restorative effects. Think of it as a walk in the woods with added awareness. It’s scientifically proven benefits include improved immune system function and sleep, higher energy levels, better mood, increased concentration and, of course, decreased stress. It just proves what we have always known; connection with nature improves our wellbeing.

It was something I became convinced of in my twenties. I was attacked and nearly died. While I didn’t ever want to talk about it, my connection with nature helped me get over it. I’d spend all night sitting on top of Cader Idris, in Snowdonia National Park. The land brought me immense peace and healing – it still does.

I’d started in mainstream education but after that worked with young offenders, people with severe psychiatric needs and those looking to tackle stress. Taking people outside to read the landscape, discover trees and their own connections with nature, is powerful. We’re all looking for a connection. This world is so frenetic a part of us too easily goes into hiding. But happy people make the world a better place; happy people are far more likely to take care of themselves, each other and the planet. jackinthegreen.org

TAKE A MOMENT IN NATURE

Whether you’re in your own back garden or Cheshire’s stunning woodland, harness nature’s healing powers

1. Become aware of the sounds around you. Tune into the rustling leaves, the wind through the branches and your own breathing.

2. Go barefoot. The feet have hundreds of sensors in them and walking barefoot has been scientifically proven to have almost instant psychological benefits.

3. Find a tree you like. Don’t question why you’re drawn to it, just sit near it in silence and take in everything about it; its shape, structure, texture. Spend at least five minutes taking it all in.

‘You have to take your time making bread, you can’t rush’

AIDAN MONKS, OWNER OF MULTI-AWARD WINNING BAKERY LOVINGLY ARTISAN IN ALTRINCHAM, WHICH RUNS BREAD- MAKING COURSES

There is something meditative about making bread. You have to take your time, you can’t rush – it’s a lovely process. People get so much out of it. It’s taking that time out to create something that tastes great – you can’t get any better for you than that.

It’s also hard work to make so you put a lot of energy into it, you give everything, it’s the best experience. I watch people making sourdough on our courses and they become lost in the whole process. The rhythm of it all is just so relaxing.

It’s not just about that time out, though. Baked fresh, our sourdoughs are just better for you, and for your gut health. Baking is an ancient art and this understanding lies at the heart of all we do. We use raw milk, ancient heritage grains, and double fermentation to make great bread. So the process is good for you and so is the result.

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