In Japan, the routine was delightful. Wake to the soft hush of a snowy winterland. A scrumptious breakfast fireside with views to the mountain. A day of adventure and savouring the magnificent vistas. Finishing with a hot bath, ‘onsen’, to soak the tired skin and legs. Then another ridiculously good meal. Slumber happily early in bed.
Not every day can be a leisurely responsibility-free holiday. But not every day needs to be a bucket of stress either.
How does your day start? Email? Social media? Meetings? That crushing sensation that there is too much to do, a never-ending scramble of urgent and important?
Where do you find space for inspiration? Cogitation? Strategy?
Studies say that the shower and driving are some of the best places to receive new ideas. Mindless focus on the task at hand allows different brain waves to occur and voilà, your next business move pops in to your brain.
But for a chronically stimulated brain, the synapses are a little frizzed by the constant input. A shower just does not allow enough time for letting go, for integration, for new connections to be remade - the raw ingredients for inspiration and creativity.
For big insights, you need big views.
Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. Read the full article here.
Big vistas help us to contemplate things in a different way. Nature has a remarkable way of shrinking our concerns and expanding our sense of time and possibility.
I know I feel a tremendous sense of dropping away when I go to the mountains, or stand at the sea’s edge. I feel tiny and expanded all at once.
Nature calms and clarifies.
Downtime in nature is essential for brain health. See the research here.
The Japanese have a term for this sensation: Forest Therapy. Getting time out in nature, even if it is only a small square of parkland outside your office, rinses anxiety from your soul and helps you to feel settled again.
Here’s the thing, when you look in nature, you can see.
My mentor, Maja Stanojovic-Andre, a specialist in the Leadership Maturity Framework, runs all of her workshops by encouraging participants to get outside in the breaks, before and after class, and learn from the ‘Nature Teacher’. Nature can offer us brilliant insights in to our state of mind, the nature of life, and ideas for next steps.
Many ancient cultures, including North American First Nations Peoples, incorporated immersion in nature as part of their rites of passage or for discovering insights. These are called ‘Vision Quests’.
Whether you go for fifteen minutes, or a weekend, or a week and more, connection in nature is your secret sauce for big insight.
That’s why all of my favourite holidays are at the beach, skiing in the mountains or camping in the bush. How about you?
Here’s a few ways you can rest your brain and allow nature to do its inspiration trick:
• Morning walk to greet the sunrise
• Hang your laundry outside barefoot, for grounding
• Sit and observe a tree for five minutes
• Have your cuppa outside on a bench
• Open windows for some fresh air
• Make a point of listening to the birds and the rustle of the wind
• If stuck inside, keep images of nature in your environment: screensavers, images on pinboards
• Use essential oils like lavender, tea tree and other plant based scents to evoke the feeling of nature
• Notice the plants in your home and office, and talk to them with a bit of encouragement and acknowledgment (yes you can be a crazy plant person!)
• Watch this fabulous TED talk.
How often do you get outside? Do you have a regular experience that helps you feel connected? Or a secret spot for re-calibrating?
P.S. This is why I’ve incorporated a four day experience in the wilderness as part of my high level Mastermind, The Leader’s Edge. It will will help us feel grounded, connected and inspired. It’s the perfect way to get real about who we are as leaders and to connect more deeply with each other, our purpose and the planet. Want to be part of this amazing program? Check out the details here.