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Nature Connectedness and Meaning in Life Research

Invitation to participate in nature connectedness and meaning in life research

We have received [4 May 2020] the following email communication from Michael Wilson at University of Derby.

Invitation

I am in my final year of doing an MSc in Psychology at the University of Derby, and as part of my degree I am conducting a study into “Nature Connectedness and Meaning in Life in the Northumberland National Park”. While the benefits of being in nature are well known, not a lot of research has been conducted into how being in nature may be linked to ideas about meaning in life. Also, it is possible that different nature settings (e.g., urban parks, allotments, forest school) have a different impact on people using these spaces. Therefore, I am writing to invite you to participate in this research. The project is supervised by Dr Ryan Lumber (ryan.lumber@derby.ac.uk; 01332 597756).

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Breamish Blossom

Beautiful Breamish blossom

One of my favourite films is the 2003 movie ‘The Last Samurai‘. While I find it memorable for all sorts of reasons – the stunning panoramas, the evocation of a strange and often cruel cultural practices – there’s a quote that sticks in my mind. The samurai leader Katsumoto (played by Ken Watanabe), is grounded in the old samurai ways and the Bushido code of honour. In contrast to his relentless warrior instincts, when confronted by Spring cherry blossom in his courtyard, he says:

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My Old Oak

Old oak near Branton

Everyone’s got a favourite place, right? A favourite place to be? A favourite place to just look and see what you can see?

As I enjoy photography as a hobby, I have a favourite location that I like to keep returning to and to keep taking the same photograph. Yes, over and over…and over. It’s an old oak tree in a field opposite the Branton Lakes Nature Reserve, just before the Branton footbridge. I love the solidity of it, the way it stands out from the Cheviots in the background, the wide expanse of the field in front, the coming and going of sheep and people. I say the ‘same’ image but, of course, that’s the point – it never is the same image. The world changes, conditions change. More sun yesterday, more cloud today. More calm yesterday, more blustery today.

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Empty Valley

First exercise in empty valley

The Government’s current response to the coronavirus pandemic is quite clear that we should stay at home except for one of four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
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Grey day walk: Branton Lakes

Grey day walk

Winter can be muggy, dark and grey. But it’s still great to get outside and enjoy our open spaces. We’re lucky in the Breamish Valley to have the Branton Lakes Nature Reserve accessible all year round. There’s a growing amount of evidence that just being out in nature improves our sense of well-being. And, for me, today was no exception – I thoroughly enjoyed my grey day walk…

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