Claire has a real love of nature – so much so that she’s made it her profession. She manages multiple projects for Bird Life International, from their head office in Cambridge.
Unfortunately, this means spending a lot of time in the world of planning and spreadsheets – so much so that she sometimes finds herself feeling cut off from nature.
That prompted her to come on a mindfulness course. I interviewed her a month after the course, and this is what she said was helping:
Connecting with the Nature that is present
Even though Claire’s office isn’t on a wildlife reserve in Gambia, there are still some elements of nature present.
For example, there are people! It’s easy to get so caught up in work at a computer screen that we lose touch with people around us. Claire found that taking a brief chat with a colleague wasn’t just pleasant; it also helped re-energise and re-motivate her.
Claire also found that re-connecting with her senses in various other ways helped. She had lots of brief strategies for this: a short walk, a body scan, noticing the fine details in what she could see and hear around her.
At lunchtimes she made a point of getting outside and having a bit of a walk, and taking in the bits of nature that are present around her office.
Connecting with Purpose
When you can see your work making a difference, it feels engaging and satisfying. When the benefits are on the other side of the planet or years into the future, it’s harder to make that connection. But it is possible, if you consciously put your mind to it and engage your imagination.
Claire’s strategy was simple yet powerful. On her desk, she put up photos of the beautiful wild places and species she is helping to protect through her work. That helped her to remember what it was all for and reconnect with her passion for the natural world.
Choosing to Engage
At times Claire would have trouble staying focused on all the Word documents and Excel spreadsheets her job entails. But she had to keep going, so she forced herself to carry on. This internal tension was draining her energy.
As she looked carefully into her experience, Claire discovered that she had more choice and freedom than she had realised.
She could focus computer work for a specific period of time. The mindful focus brought a fuller engagement that made the experience more enjoyable.
At the end of the period she could consciously shift her attention to her colleagues, her environment and herself – bringing another kind of enjoyment.
With less tension and more engagement she works more effectively – and feels more satisfied as a result.
But Claire didn’t stop there! A key aspect of Mindfulness is clarity of purpose. Claire is really clear that she wants to protect the environment – and that means she wants us all to love and appreciate nature, to love and appreciate the planet we live on. So she wrote a book!