What being outside can teach us about staying indoors
Being inside the same four walls every day, for days on end, can certainly feel like we’re being trapped. With the same views from the same window and the days blending into one another, life has come to a frustrating standstill. For some of us, to cope, we take to the outdoors with a slow leisurely walk. Step outside, and you might find that your attention starts to change.
Do you hear the birds chirping more than usual? Do you notice the little flowers, red, white, or yellow, blooming in the tiny cracks on the pavements? Take a moment to think if you had noticed nature this much before.
With activities like grass-pruning being reduced in Singapore due to the circuit breaker measures, a lot of residents, myself included, have started noticing Nature starting to regrow in the city. Fields of short, well-maintained grasslands have turned into swathes of lallang. With less people out and about, animals have started to take to the streets, with sightings of otters being more common in canals and parks. I see an abundance of snails on sidewalks.
Our country, widely touted as a City in the Garden for the longest time, has started to bloom. Being so close to Nature all this while, how have we not noticed the beauty in it before?
Perhaps it’s that our notions about the outside have been recontextualized. Previously, we used to go out for activities, to meet friends at the mall, to catch up over a good meal.
Now, with our limited options, our imagination about the outside has no choice but to take on a different meaning: a humble walk to simply observe our surroundings for what they are. We have been on autopilot for so long, walking to get to somewhere, without noticing the little details that have been present around us all along.
Being aware of the meaning of mindfulness
Mindfulness — the act of being in the present, observing without judging or distraction, and simply being aware of our thoughts.
Mindfulness is exactly what nature offers us to practice, and it comes naturally. Be observant, and let our thoughts free.
With mindfulness, we get a plethora of benefits. We:
- practice active listening and observation
- become aware of gratitude
- clear our mind of stress and racing thoughts
- differentiate between the important and the superficial
In times of uncertainty and change, the natural changes and growth of the outside world can be relied on for comfort.
Beyond the outdoors
How can we bring this newfound attention and comfort back into our own homes? Perhaps a potted plant might be the key. Shower it with love, care, and concern, and have a piece of nature bloom in our very own homes.
Perhaps a thorough inspection of the objects we have and hold dear to us, or even the people that we love. What are the details of these things that make them special? What, in particular, do we appreciate about them? No matter what it is, find a way to include observation in your life, and stay mindful.
All it takes is for us to pay a little attention, and to appreciate.
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