Summer is so wonderful, filled with sunshine and so many nature related great experiences. Therefore I decided to write the following two blogs (this and the next one) about healing and therapy within nature.
In this blog you will be able to read about how bird watching and listening to birdsong can influence our wellbeing. In the next blog I will introduce you to the beautiful term of Shinrin-Yoku, or ‘Forest-bathing’.
Both concepts are deeply inspirational and show us once more how important is for all of us to spend time in nature.
Bird watching and bird song, as therapy
What has bird watching to do with mental health?
A recent study by King’s College, London, has found that birdsong can boost mental wellbeing for several hours. The researchers found that there was a tangible improvement to wellbeing following exposure to birdsong, trees and even from just looking at the sky.
Joe Harkness, a special educational needs coordinator and the writer of the book called Bird Therapy, has had a breakdown in 2013. As result, he started going for long walks in nature. He mentions in his book that alongside antidepressants, a year’s counseling and mindfulness groups, his walks gave him peace of mind. One day, during his walk, he had a powerful experience, being deeply touched by the song of a bird.
Few years later, he started sharing his experience on social media and was astound by how his message resonated with people willing to share their own stories. That gave him the motivation to write a book about his experience.
Here is a short extract from his book:
‘During one of these stop-offs, I was standing statue-like in the middle of the heath. It was then I heard it, no, I felt it. Filling my ears and mind and smothering the heath in wondrous song. The first time you hear a woodlark sing is a magical moment and one that’s never forgotten. It is a difficult song to describe: melancholic yet vitalizing, a descending staccato of piped notes that lift and swirl in a flurry of sweet melody. I was awestruck by its beauty and clarity; it was the loveliest birdsong I’d ever heard. It saturated me with joy and I left the heath a hundred times happier’.
Joe’s tips for tuning into the restorative benefits of the birdsong are:
- Make birdwatching a multisensory experience; focus on not just seeing the birds but on hearing them to. There is much pleasure in identifying a bird by its call or song.
- Familiarize yourself with the sounds of your bird community either in your own garden or in a place you visit often. As you spend more time immersed in these, you will find that they will anchor you to the present.
- Tune into the top ten; the most uplifting birdsongs and calls shared with Joe were: blackbird, curlew, skylark, nightingale, willow warbler, blackcap, wren, robin, oystercatcher and song thrush. Try to learn these and then listen out for them.
- Embrace the whole soundscape rather than becoming too focused on individual bird sounds; Each one is a passing moment so treat them as such and enjoy them accordingly.
Source: extracted from: Country Living, July, 2019; The book: Joe Harkness, Bird Therapy;
also see: birdtherapy.blog
I wish you all a beautiful summer☼.