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Get outdoors and enjoy the bounty of nature

The rains of July followed by the better weather in August have ensured a glut of blackberries this year. There is nothing I like better than spending hours outdoors living off the bounty of nature. This season I've already made blackberry scones, jam, vinegar, crumble and gin.

It occurred to me that blackberrying offers a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness as it is a multi-sensory experience. There are the sounds of being outdoors that one can focus on, as well as the feeling of grass under your feet.

There are the inevitable nettle stings and the sensation of the air against your skin. You can be mindful of the buzz of wasps while simultaneously noting the small globules that make up each individual berry.

Drawing all of your attention to the external world in this way is an excellent way to relax, since it allows you a holiday from your own personal thoughts, worries and concerns.

Of course, you will also eat some while picking, and this is one of the most enjoyable ways to practice mindfulness.

Each one is also a powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.

Before you munch away, look at it. Feel its knobbly surface. Then, put it in your mouth and just feel it against your tongue before chewing. Slowly bite into it. Taste the sour juice bursting out of the small globes of sweetness. Be mindful of the seeds between your teeth.

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I'm sure we've all had the experience of spending an hour or two on autopilot when you're not sure where the time has gone.

Often I get into the car, immediately find myself lost in thought, and arrive at my destination scarcely remembering the journey at all. While getting lost in thought can be a good thing, life is a series of journeys from the morning to bedtime and personally I'd like to remember at least some of it!

When you pick blackberries mindfully, you will be present in your own life and your moment to moment experience will be fuller and richer. So this week, get out in the hedgerow.

Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at josephpond@yahoo.com or at https://www.facebook.com/ Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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