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Hammocks in Nature

As adults we know the value of creating spaces in nature for relaxation and alone time, often our best inspiration comes when we are motivated and quiet! We seek opportunities to relax daily and understand how meditative activities enhance our physical and mental well being. Young children are still learning to appreciate being still and reflective, their natural urges to wind down, rest or seek solace are often met unknowingly and if left un-met can be the cause of behaviour problems... Yet another reason why planning for relaxation in nature is important!

This child had to wade across a stream and climb up onto a large log to get into the hammock, he felt a sense of achievement by simply being able to reach his destination and was rewarded by the hammock!

When designing a nature program think about how you can design your space to promote relaxation and mindfulness in nature. Hammocks are a perfect tool for nature connection, they immediately inspire a child to be calm in nature and when positioned correctly inspire interaction with the natural world.

Hammocks are always a favourite on our nature adventures and we are finding that they not only provide a space to connect with nature but also promote sensory exploration and meditation. Children like to use their whole bodies to explore, a hammock gives the child access to different sensations while challenging their ideas of motion and perspective. It is a win win activity!

 Young children constantly seek the sensation of weightlessness and have natural urges to explore how it feels to be upside down, sideways vertical etc.. this curiosity leads to experimentation - especially with hammocks...they may lay in a hammock and use a single finger to glide across the water - over and over again. This connection with the water and the motion of the hammock adds to the calm feeling experienced by the child and is very meditative, it freezes time and places them directly in the moment! So while we are supporting their natural urges we are also providing a meditative experience in disguise 😉

This kind of meditation is self directed and discovered by the child, our role is to first name this as a meditative activity and state the benefits of this to the child. You could say (after the moment has passed): "Wow you looked so relaxed, what a good way to meditate." "I can see how you had time to think, observe and feel" By labelling their actions we aid in their ability to classify and use this information in the future. Second our role is to get creative and plan opportunities that promote relaxation - everyday!

When we are planning nature connection experiences we need to carefully consider the spaces we plan to take children to; what is the potential for meditative activities? Are these provocations going to be accessible and adaptable to the individual? Do we have to take a journey to the meditative experience? Is there a challenge to overcome so the experience (hammock) is the reward or the destination? By being intentional we are increasing the opportunities children have to meditate and relax in nature and we know that by doing this we are improving their health and well being. Happy, healthy kids is our goal and nature is our canvas to achieve this!