Ever since I was a small child, I have felt calm and grounded when in nature. I have a passion for horses and while I could only go to a riding school once a week as a youngster, I loved being in nature, on a pony, with the smell of the earth and vegetation, the rain or heat. 

I noticed in these early years the way seasons and weather change. The light and shade of the sky. I learnt 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.

Coping strategy

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 and solace. It had become an unbeknown coping strategy. One that, even in my 40s, I didn’t have full appreciation of its strength.

During counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I came to understand the value of my ‘seeking a boost of nature’ coping mechanism. 

It was about this time that 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. 

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.

Influence of nature

I first consciously experienced the influence of nature upon my mood and energy during a solo work trip to Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa in 2019. 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. 

I knew then how important it would be to create something that others could find connection and support with and 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.

I approached my stepdaughter Dr Ashleigh McLellan - a brilliant clinical psychologist - to write and record audio too. 

Together, we have created calming and training mind audio menus and a library of awe of nature 360-degree videos.

About the Author

Hilary McLellanHilary McLellan

Hilary is an Organisational Behaviourist, Team and Exec Coach, specialising in coaching and facilitating culture and behavioural change, organisational development, resilience and emotional intelligence.