We all have our favourite green spaces around where we live and perhaps work – spaces which resonant strongly with us, help us to relax, to unwind, to think more clearly.
I live and work in London and over the years, I have explored many of the Capital’s green spaces. Victoria Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park and Gordon Square – are four very different spaces, all different in energy, appearance and size but with this in common: they are all fabulous green spaces and like all green spaces, are wonderfully good for our well-being.
Those of us who live in an urban environment will benefit greatly from taking time out in green space – and indeed this is why I decided to offer life coaching while walking in London’s parks.
In this blog I share why these particular parks resonant so strongly with me, but first, here’s a beautiful exercise you can try the next time you visit your favourite green space – it’s called the 4-3-2-1 exercise – it will help you make the most of your green space moment.
– Take a walk on your own ideally in a green space
– Slow down your pace
– Take a few deep breaths
– Start by naming 4 things you can see, 4 things you can hear and 4 things you can feel (physical sensations); then go on to name 3 of each, then 2 of each and then 1.
Here’s an example to illustrate how the exercise might unfold:
Four: “I see the clouds in the blue sky. I see tall trees. I see a big patch of purple crocuses in the grass. I see people on benches having their lunch.I hear birds chirping. I hear people chatting. I hear distant traffic noise. I hear my in and out breath.I feel the air on my skin. I feel the soles of my feet on the ground. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I feel my heart beating.
Three: I see the sun coming through from behind the clouds. I see two squirrels searching for food. I see daffodils here and there. I hear children playing, I hear people eating their lunch, I hear a bumblebee. I feel the wind in my hair. I feel my trousers touching my legs. I feel my shoulders relaxing.
Two: I see the pretty bark of the planes. I see the light green of the grass. I hear a dog barking. I hear myself swallow. I feel the muscles in my face relaxing. I feel the air touching my nose when I inhale and exhale.
One: I see the snowdrops around the trees. I hear the call of a crow. I feel a relaxed heaviness throughout my whole body.
Try to identify different things for each of the 4 stages. This will heighten your experience in nature and help to ground you in the present moment.
I recently did this exercise during my lunch break in Bunhill Field cemetery near Liverpool Street, East London – another beautiful green space. After the exercise I felt light yet grounded, alert and energetic with a heightened sense of perspective.
My favourite green spaces in London:
Gordon Square near Russell Square WC1.
This park always reminds me of the German saying: ‘klein, aber fein’, meaning ‘small, but exquisite’. It’s as though you enter the park and it says ‘welcome, stay a while’ – maybe it’s the impact of the old Hornbeam tree which stands tall in the middle overlooking the small paths, flower beds and other trees. I always feel very peaceful when I’m there. It’s a very special green space in the heart of London.
Regent’s Park NW1
The sheer variety of trees in this park, combined with the wide open paths, fields and some wild and un-manicured patches of woodland ensures an interesting and refreshing variety of scenery. I get a great sense of freedom here. It’s a great place to slow down and escape from city life for just an hour or so. It’s truly wonderful.
Green Park W1
My favourite feature in Green Park is the large circle of old and tall plane trees. When you stand inside and look up – from late spring to early autumn – it feels as though you were in a huge tree tent. Being inside feels like being in magical place, protective and a little mysterious. Although relatively small Green Park offers a surprising number of paths, quiet and intimate spots with benches and lush grass.
Victoria Park East London
Victoria Park is my ‘home park’. As I write I can see the giant plane trees from my window. Victoria Park has great big fields for roaming across and long avenues of old trees. The park has greatly benefited from the Olympics and now also offers an Old English Garden with quiet benches and beautiful flower beds. Sometimes I walk or cycle all around it or I find myself a quiet spot on a Saturday afternoon to read, to reflect, to take some time out.
I offer a free taster life coaching while walking session in Victoria park. Please get in touch to make a booking.
Please share your favourite green spaces with me on the Green Space Life Coaching Facebook page. I’d love to hear what makes your green space special to you.
I’d also love to know how you get on with the 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise. Any questions just drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org