4 ‘f-ing’ reasons on why you should meditate at the park

4 ‘f-ing’ reasons on why you should meditate at the park

TLDR: 3 Fs that you can give and gain when meditating in the park. Kyle explores the different benefits of it!

The 3Fs. Nope, I’m not swearing. Although during these challenging times, swearing might relieve the repressed and stressful energies. 

I’m talking about Frequency, Fresh Air, and Flora & Fauna. Wait, it might be 4Fs now. Anyway, these Fs I discovered recently when I conducted a meditation for the Rainbodhi group at Singapore Botanical Garden.

1. Frequency

Meditation is not a mystical and magical route toward some higher plane. It is a cognitive process for self-exploration using introspection. Meditation underpins what scientists are discovering about the brain and the way it works.

Scientifically speaking, every space or environment has a set of frequencies at which they naturally vibrate. Where there is resonance, there is frequency. Where there is frequency, there is energy. It’s simple really. Everything we see and interact with is made up of energetic particles, which all carry their own vibration, just like our emotions.

Studies have shown that the natural environment promotes deeper brain functional connectivity than the built environment. What it means is that being in nature soothes the nervous system through the release of hormones that positively impact the body, mind, and energies. 

Emotions are frequencies. Thoughts are frequencies. Everything is composed of different frequencies and only a small fraction of these frequencies are detectable by the human senses. We naturally sense some of these frequencies, specifically the ones generated by thoughts or emotions — even though we cannot see them (recall not liking someone for no other reason than having a bad “vibe”).

South Korea even goes to the extent of investing $140 million in a new centre on forest therapy. That shows how much emphasis a country can place on nature when she recognises the powerful effect nature can bring to us.

In nature, you can feel your body more easily tune into the Earth’s frequency. The body can restore, revitalize, and heal itself more effectively.

Whenever I’m surrounded by nature, I feel embraced by the greenery. Isn’t nature the best representation of what Dhamma (the law of the universe) meant? 

When the body touches the ground, the earth and I are connected. At once, I tune into the interdependence that prevails in nature.  Compared to sitting on the concrete floor, my bum prefers the grass more. There is a different “vibe” and meditation becomes more focused and connected. 

2. Fresh Air

I have had to develop tricks through the years to get myself to meditate. I can read Dhamma books for hours a day, but I haven’t yet managed to override the part of my brain in which edutainment takes precedence over sitting still. Much less allow the mind to settle into a blissful state of being.

One way where I can make myself devoted to meditation is by either going to the park or doing it with others. Not only is there inherent accountability, but if you have a time, a place, and a routine, you have successfully outwit your mind into thinking, “Hey! There is a new place I can try meditating in!” The mind likes doing and does not like being. 

What’s this got to do with fresh air? You might not notice, but whenever you try meditating in a new environment, the air feels different from one place to another. Fresh air is everything. It puts the body at ease and more relaxed.

Oxygen is directly related to being alert. Lack of oxygen makes us lazy, sleepy, or weak. Like oxygen, meditation is also related to being alert to our experience of the meditation object. 

The best “air” I’ve breathed was when I was up on a mountain facing the Himalayas in Ladakh. Since mountains are not easily accessible here in Singapore, a park is the next best thing. 

There is no shortage of oxygen in the park: the fresh air that we breathe comes directly from the plants and the carbon dioxide we exhale is vital for them. It’s a win-win situation. With the consumption of fresh air, it might be hard not gaining enlightenment. Smiley face emoji.

3. Flora and Fauna

Being around flora and fauna helps people concentrate better. Studies show that tasks performed while under the calming influence of nature are performed better and with greater accuracy, yielding a higher quality result.

Parks foster an appreciation for nature that often instils a sense of responsibility for caring for and protecting the environment. 

Ever wonder why people buy flowers when visiting patients at the hospital? Plants or Greenery have a practical application in hospitals: the presence of plants in patient recovery rooms dramatically reduces the time necessary to heal. The soothing effects of ornamental flowers and plants are so great that simply having daily views of flowers or plants in landscaped areas significantly speeds up recovery time. It feels like I’m already being healed by the flora and fauna before I start meditating in the park. 

Realising how fortunate I’m enjoying this space the park is providing, I feel obliged to count my blessings for having such a wonderful opportunity to do my meditation in the park.

I always end it by dedicating my merits to the people around me. 

Forget about swearing, let’s all take a “seat” in the park, and discover the true beauty of nature not just as an inert or pretty landscape, but as a living and breathing world of mystery and sensitivity. A realm of wisdom and learning that is always whispering its teachings to us. 

Wise Steps:

  • Find greenery nearby your dwelling and locate a nice quiet spot to sit in silence
  • If silence still feels foreign, tune into a Dhamma talk that can help calm your mind as you sit in the green
  • Organise a ‘green sit’ with friends, there is company in solitude and in a group of friends!
#WW: 🚀 Buddhist lessons from the moon on earth day

#WW: 🚀 Buddhist lessons from the moon on earth day

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Earth day is approaching! Climate change, going electric, buying sustainable products are all aspects passionately discussed on Earth day. Buddhists are commonly nudged towards being more environmentally friendly… so what does the late zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, have to say about our attitudes to the earth?

1. Can you fix climate change? Answering it is harder than you think

2. The astronaut & the Dhamma lessons on earth

Can you fix climate change? Answering it is harder than you think

silhouette of trees during sunset

What’s going on here

Kurzgesagt, an awesome youtube channel and writer of Immune, explores how we can solve rapid climate change. He explores deeper into how individual responsibility is not enough to turn around the tide of climate change. Instead of feeling hopeless, Kurzgesagt explores what we can actually do.

Why we like it

“Go vegetarian! Buy metal straws!” We are often told to make personal lifestyle changes to save the planet. However, there are also more ways to create a deeper impact. This video shares our current impact and why it is not enough to solve climate change. The mixture of narrative and statistics makes this video super enjoyable.

“Can’t some technology save us so we can continue to drive our big cars and eat meat every day? “

Wise Steps

Education is our first step. The next goes towards advocacy at the level we can to help some of the greatest issues facing earth and humanity. Doing our part and helping others/ industries do a little better can go a long way!

Read our review of a Buddhist Environmentalism movie (psst. we enjoyed it!)

The astronaut & the Dhamma lessons on earth

astronaut in white suit in grayscale photography

What’s going on here

Late Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, shares on we can approach caring for the earth and our minds. When we are mindful, we are able to see the beauty of the earth and can start caring for it. Oh yes, he mentions legendary Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

Why we like it

His short and impactful sharing between the first moon landing and earth is unforgettable. We sometimes think of different miracles being something extraordinary. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh challenges to see the miracle in the simple. Simply earth.

“Mindful walking means you touch the ground of the planet earth mindfully, you touch all the wonders of life”

Wise Steps

When is the last time you walked in nature? Taking yourself out to walk and be in nature (no airpods/ no phones) could reconnect you with the earth on earth day!

Enjoy the video below

Film Review: The Way Out – Mindfulness, Environmentalism & Burnout

Film Review: The Way Out – Mindfulness, Environmentalism & Burnout

Buddhist Film Reviews is a partnership series between HOL & THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2021 (25 Sept – 8 Oct’21). Themed “Open your mind”, THISBFF 2021 features 15 thought-provoking documentaries and feature films from 12 countries. 

TLDR: The journeys of two young men searching for answers converge at  Plum Village. It offers light in a world where we see escape as the only means to happiness.

It often feels that a day barely passes without the media talking about mental well-being or climate change as a subject that demands our attention. However, it is rare for a film to stir your attention and make you sit up to notice these issues.

Director Wouter Verhoeven’s heavy use of first-hand footage, interviews with protagonists and others brings into focus, the plight of Mother Nature and burnout in life.

Wouter masterfully uses mindful pauses in the film (shots of nature and the characters doing mundane activities) to create moments for reflection.

His main message is clear throughout the entire film: The way out of these crises starts when we look inwards.

The film, with momentary commentary by the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, further enhances the impact of the film’s message.

The founder of Plum Village teaches, “The way out is in. The way out of climate change is inside each of us.” His invitation is to pause: to stop running and observe what is really going on.

The Way Out is Reflection

Wouter’s documentary focuses on two protagonists: Eddie, an environmental activist struggling to prevent fracking in Yorkshire, England; the other, a London banker facing an existential crisis. The banker, upon deeply examining his life, discovers its monotony and emptiness.

The film lays bare their attempts to remedy that despair in both their searches. Eddie searches for environmental protection while the banker searches for meaning. 

As I watched the film, I was moved by the protagonists’ raw, unfiltered examination of their lives. The courage to confront their insecurities and uncertainty struck a chord within me. In a world where social validation of positivity is lauded, this film was a breath of fresh air.

For example, the banker realises that so many peers are depressed, in spite of their material success. He reflects that everyone is living in a fishbowl: one can look outside of the bowl but is incapable of experiencing the ocean outside (real world).

“There is a place for peace to reign, to settle, and you should go there. You know how to do it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“There is a place for peace to reign, to settle, and you should go there. You know how to do it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The Way Out is Harmony

What makes this film worth sitting up and paying attention to? For me, it was the Director’s elegant weaving of the two stories into one storyline. As I watched the film, I was trying hard to understand how the two protagonists’ stories would meet. Hint: Plum Village is the centre stage.

Within the film, harmony is achieved by the director’s thoughtful mix of tense scenes of confrontations with still nature shots and interviews with a Plum Village monastic.

The monk speaks to Eddie about his confrontations with the fracking industry and how Eddie feels about it.

“Don’t make a front, make a circle, there is no one to fight. We suffer because we don’t know better,” the Buddhist monk counsels Eddie as he faces burnout over his cause. 

Nuggets of wisdom like this sprinkled throughout the film makes it a compelling watch. The film is not alarmist but rather, awakening.

The Way Out is Change

The most beautiful part of the film is watching how these two protagonists transform their mental states, especially after they come into contact with Plum Village, a Zen monastery in France. Seeing their calm faces while meditating, and their serene smiles while doing temple chores brought a smile to my face.

Eddie’s calm focus while making bread for fellow practitioners and the banker’s gaze while being in the monastery garden were my favourite scenes of inner change for these two characters.

Seeing Eddie and the banker find the strength to feel comfortable in their own skin and at peace was a relief. It was akin to witnessing a fish finding its way out of the fishbowl into the greater ocean. Change can be painful but necessary.

Change enables to let go of superficial & lesser happiness for the greater & deeper happiness in life.

Who do I Recommend the Film for?

Friends who find themselves stuck in the grind of the 9-to-5 or those feeling burnout from championing causes close to their hearts. 

This film speaks directly to you and is unafraid to show you the costs of your ideals. It is a great introduction for those new to Buddhism as the film gives a taste of how Dhamma can be applied in real-world situations. How do we approach people who are in direct conflict with our values? How do we face an existential crisis? The film is a perfect illustration of Buddhism in action without requiring deep Buddhist knowledge.

You will be challenged to stop running and to take a pause. To find a mindful and peaceful way out.

A positive post-note to the film: In 2019, the UK government halted fracking in England. This effectively bans fracking in the UK, a watershed moment for activists and the environment. Scientific studies warned it was not possible to rule out unacceptable consequences for those living near fracking sites.

Liked what our author experienced? Book your tickets right now!

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