How immersive nature films with mindful audio can help you become more resilient during the Coronavirus pandemic
Since I was a small child, I knew I felt calm and grounded when I was in nature. I was crazy about horses and while I could only go to a riding school once a week I loved being in nature, on a pony, the smell of the earth and vegetation, the rain or heat. The sense and intuition of seasons and weather change. The light and shade of the sky. I learned in those early years how to understand where I belonged in that system of nature. I learned perspective and intuition that has stayed with me throughout my adult life.
I also learned how nature could play a large and positive part in how I felt. I would seek to be in the countryside if I wanted to manage difficult emotions and replace anxiety with calm. It didn’t have to be a perfect sunny day - I would find rain, wind and snow - as well as sunshine and heat - as comforting and energising.
Those difficult emotions were real for me. I was sexually abused at six years old and didn’t seek help until I was in my 40s. The outdoors was where I went for safety, anonymity, solace. It had become an unbeknown coping strategy. One that, even in my 40s, I didn’t have full appreciation of its strength!
When I eventually did seek counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) I came to understand the value of my ‘seeking a boost of nature’ coping mechanism. About this time, mindfulness audios were becoming popular and I started to study a MSc in Organisational Behaviour. I began to appreciate more about how our brain works. I was fascinated by emotional intelligence and worked hard to develop my own. It had been stunted for too long!
I tried to practice mindfulness with a number of audio apps over the years, but I found it hard to maintain the practice. As I started to coach in the corporate world, I tried to introduce mindfulness to individuals and groups, but the usual response was of awkwardness, slight embarrassment and discomfort for those who were new to this practice. I understood why and felt it myself, but I also knew of the benefits and wanted to find a way to bridge this gap.
Feeling good enough
It was in 2018 during a solo work trip to Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa, when I first consciously experienced the influence of nature upon my mood and energy. It was the first time in my life, in that place immersed in the awe of African nature, that I felt I was good enough.
It was at that point I decided to try and create something that others could find connection and support with. I gradually pulled together the idea of combining real film of nature with some calming mind audios. The audios paying attention to not only the mindful narrative but also recognising the nature, visible to the listener.
For those of us who have struggled to embed audio-only mindful practice this seemed to me to be a very helpful first step. But it’s no good having an idea if you haven’t got the skills to move that idea in to a marketable product!
I struggled to find anyone to listen to my idea at first but then an IT colleague came back to me, saying he thought I might be ‘on to something’. It was music to my ears. Initially we just recorded films wherever we went in the world, to provide an ‘awe of nature’ 360-degree film selection to run in tandem with mindful audios.
But there was so much value in making the audio ourselves and writing it in a way that it references and weaves into the awe of nature visual that we quickly moved to finding the right person to provide that. I approached my step-daughter - a brilliant clinical psychologist - to write and record audios. We have created calming and training mind audio menus.
Introducing Your Virtual Mind Trainer
One year on and three directors of ‘Your Virtual Mind Trainer’ (YVMT) have created a library of awe of nature 360-degree videos with a wide variety of audios that will continue to grow month by month along with members’ subscriptions.
Members can choose a five to six minute audio, a film to accompany it and experience both together on a device they choose – mobile, laptop or tablet
We always planned to introduce YVMT in late 2020 but have decided to launch early because we recognise that many people may benefit from our 360° films of nature with mindful audio during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown and may like to grow with us.
I will bring you details of where you can find YVMT very soon... in the meantime, you can follow the YVMT Twitter page.