How to be an eco-system for well being

Loneliness and isolation hit most of us at some time in our lives, but there are places that provide solace and connection. Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking seeks to be one of these places, an oasis of wellbeing and nature.

Nature is known to provide comfort to troubled spirits, such as Wordsworth, wandering “lonely as a cloud.” When we are insulated from the noise and franticness of urban life, our heart rates can slow down and the beautiful views from the house over large trees, gardens and the landscape beyond uplift us in subtle ways.

But it’s not only the auditory and visual senses that are soothed here. The air is remarkably fresh as the property faces the prevailing southwesterly wind and the breeze rustles the leaves that give shelter for lots of creatures. Birdsong is heard throughout the day, including the hoot of owls in the woodland at night. If traffic can be heard it is like a distant memory or waves on the shore.

“Hawkwood is like a sustainable eco-system, says Katie Lloyd-Nunn, programme manager and garden volunteer coordinator for the charity. “I especially see the benefits of working together outdoors every Friday. Our volunteer team includes people with special educational needs, in life transitions and recovery or just local friends who want to lend a hand. I experienced mental health support myself the other day. I was feeling uncharacteristically low, but turned up for our garden group. At tea break we started bantering and ended up in peels of laughter. It was really therapeutic for body and mind,” she continues.

Silence, rest and renewal are strong themes in the Inner Life autumn to winter retreats programme. “Deep winter is a time for slowing down, becoming still, and moving towards contemplation,” says Mel Skinner who leads Rest and Restore new year retreat in early January 2020. “The aim on this retreat is to let yourself move at your own pace. You may be surprised by how tired you really are!”

Working with the hands with crafts or painting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It can also improve hand-eye coordination, ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from aging. Hawkwood’s arts and crafts courses range from one-day tasters to immersive retreats in icon painting or life drawing.

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© Image by Henry Kenyon, Seed Festival 2019

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