If Meditation Isn’t Your Thing, Try Watching Nature Documentaries Instead

Unsplash/Tim Foster

Some people seriously struggle to meditate. The harder they try to ignore distractions and let their minds just sit in the present moment, the more frustrated they become. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry — we have some good news for you. It looks like tuning into a relaxing AF nature documentary could be just as beneficial to your mental health as that time spent sitting on a meditation pillow is supposed to be.

A team of scientists from Coventry University in the United Kingdom, Massey University in New Zealand and Radboud University in the Netherlands recently reviewed more than 20 different studies that look into the effectiveness of a meditation practice as compared to other activities. And in their review, they picked up on a couple of interesting things.

First, meditation can certainly have a positive impact on people who practice it, but the effect isn’t as dramatic as they expected it to be. And second, the boost of compassion and empathy people notice in themselves post-meditation can be achieved just as easily by watching a nature documentary.

This is obviously great news for people who haven’t fully jumped on the meditation train (and also happen to love “Planet Earth”), but devout mindfulness folks might feel like this comparison is a slap in the face. While the study review in no way suggests that people should stop meditating, the authors do uncover the fact that a lot of previous studies have overstated its benefits — likely because major meditation advocates were the ones leading the studies. And once the media caught wind of the zen wellness trend, there was just no stopping it.

So it just goes to show that you can’t let your personal expectations sway the empirical design of the work you’re doing… and that Mother Nature will always find a way to come out on top in pretty much every aspect of our lives.

[h/t HuffPost UK]