Rural Mindfulness Summer Blog With Narelle Hunter

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I was not practicing ‘Rural Mindfulness’ at first, when driving from Sydney to Young a few weeks ago. I felt rushed, trying to make an appointment on time. There was an incredible dust storm on sunrise over Sydney. This dust and strong wind hovered around the car all the way home (450kms). Also at times I was held up by lots of roadworks, rainstorms followed by more dust (it was a very strange day) and to top it off, when I filled the car with fuel at Yass, this blustery morning had dropped to 8 degrees from Sydney’s 23-degree morning …..ahh!

I had to let my ‘Rural Mindfulness’ work hard this day, and needed to quickly find a perspective that was helpful. I decided the dust storm was a good thing, because it was a reminder to everyone across the state that there is a big problem going on in our country for our farmers who are coping with extreme drought conditions.

For the entire trip home, I felt gratitude for all farmers who are trying to plan Christmas without a harvest income, trying to maintain relationships, without a moment to spare due to feeding stock and worrying about the banks pressure. This huge dust storm reignited my passion for helping farming families, and that is because I didn’t get caught up in my own agenda that day but the needs of our wider community, and how I can best serve those who need a hand.

Rural Mindfulness can be a rich experience of sight, sound, taste, touch and aroma but it can also be so much more. It can actually bring out the best in us, and all that we are capable of. The practice enhances our physical and mental health, improves our ability to self-regulate and self-care.  We can choose to be in the present with a settled nervous system, relaxed emotions, calmer thoughts and less tense body. This is so good for our digestion, immune system and brain health.

So, Rural Mindfulness has more to do with ‘how’ we look at something than ‘what’ we are looking at. We can do the same with body awareness. We can notice the feet, wriggle the toes, notice legs, back etc. but without any judgement. This is one of the most difficult Rural Mindfulness activities to teach because many of us are so used to liking some parts of the body, and quietly disliking others. When we can simply be the witnessing presence of the body, we can scan each area with interest, “Can I relax well here? Is there tension? Can I sit in a more comfortable position to be able to relax more? When sitting, is my core on or off? What is my breath doing?” We move to the prefrontal cortex of the brain when noticing the physical body and this is incredibly helpful for anxiety, depression and early symptoms of stress.

For me, on the day of the state-wide dust storm, I was able to release my own agenda for just long enough for the ‘inner dust’ to settle, so I could remember by purpose and walk my talk.

I’m not saying mindfulness is easy but I do feel it is very important, especially now in our rural communities.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you can take something from my thoughts and use it yourself.

Have a lovely day…Narelle Hunter

Ginny Stevens