The Impact of Mindful Meditation in Nature on Self-Nature Interconnectedness
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- Unsworth, S., Palicki, SK. & Lustig, J. Mindfulness (2016) 7: 1052. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0542-8
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Previous research has shown that mindfulness and spending time in nature are both related to perceived self-nature interconnectedness, with implications for environmental and psychological well-being. More research is needed to better understand the relative influence of mindful meditation and nature exposure on self-nature interconnectedness. In study 1, we replicated evidence for a relationship between mindfulness and self-nature interconnectedness in a sample of Buddhist meditators attending a nature and meditation retreat. In study 2, undergraduate students participated in 3-day nature trips that were randomly assigned to either a meditation condition (which included formal meditation in the mornings) or a non-meditation condition (which did not include formal meditation practices). The results from pre- and post-trip surveys showed that the combined influence of mindful meditation in nature on self-nature interconnectedness is greater than nature exposure that does not include mindful meditation. One focus of the present research was to examine cognitive dimensions of nature connectedness, given that mindfulness meditation is based on cognitive processes such as selective attention. Study 2 revealed three types of concepts underlying self-nature interconnectedness: (1) mental models for behaviors in nature, (2) self-nature categorization, and (3) self-nature associations. In addition, participants who meditated in nature were more likely to foreground nature in their memories of the trip by emphasizing nature rather than other aspects (such as social interactions). Together, the results from the present research suggest that mindful meditation in nature can be used to reestablish or strengthen concepts of self-nature interconnectedness nature for urban adults.