Play the dawn chorus
You can either put this video on in meditation (either with closed eyes or soft focus) or you can put this on in the background as you begin your day.
They say that the veil between the mystic world and the waking world is thinnest just before dawn. That time just as the last inky darkness begins to fade up into powder blues and dusty pinks. The hour just before the light rises and paints the landscape anew with bright colours for another day. At this time, something magical begins to happen. Not only with light but with sound. Many will be familiar with early morning birdsong, but there is something quite mesmerizing about the chorus of birds, insects, and animals that begins each day in the African wilderness.
We have been told for years that it is important to start your day right. Create a routine. Eat a good breakfast. Drink some coffee. Exercise before the hustle and bustle of the day gets going. But more recently, there has been overwhelming evidence that how you spend the first hour of your day sets you up for the rest. And, what’s more, that starting your day in a mindful manner – ahead of any of the other more ‘normal’ practices or habits – helps that much more.
It’s certainly no secret that we are advocates for meditation and mindfulness here at Londolozi. In fact, we have just released two Inward Safari challenges in which we guide you through the basics of mindfulness and breathwork, interwoven with ancient animal wisdom. We even meet weekly as a small group and practice mindfulness together ourselves. It is a large part of what has kept us on the right track mentally and spiritually through this global pandemic.
Mindfulness can take many forms – so much so that almost anyone can find a way to be mindful no matter where they are in the world or how much time they have to dedicate to their practice. One such way that I have found particularly stimulating recently is tuning into the dawn chorus around me each morning. This practice of intense focus on one sense at a time (hearing) brings me into a deep state of clarity and focus. It allows me to get incredibly still while I listen. And, it is one of my favourite forms of sense-drenching (literally drenching your sense in something beautiful) as it allows my imagination to be included in a mindful way – not by wandering off into negative or distracting thoughts but by being included in the imagining of what the chorus looks like in my mind.
The benefits of meditation are numerous, and, at the same time, quite particular. Each person will feel the effects in a different way. One person might find that it creates a little more space in their emotional reaction time. Another might find stress levels decrease and happiness levels increase. Another might find their quality of sleep gets better. Another could see creativity rapidly increase, along with productivity. The science behind it is quite simple. Mindfulness and meditation cause the pituitary gland in your brain to secrete endorphins. Endorphins are ‘the feel-good hormone’, making us feel good physically and emotionally. Mindfulness and meditation also enhance activity in the area of your brain that’s associated with positive emotions and experiences – for some this means a decrease in depression and anxiety and a general increase in wellbeing, and it could even have an effect on pain tolerance. Mindfulness also works because of a concept called neuroplasticity – a term researchers gave to the way brain cells (neurons) grow and change because they are malleable (plastic). Neurons change regularly and are shaped by our experiences. This helps adults learn, adapt, and remember. Every time we experience something new, a new neural pathway forms, and if repeated, reinforces and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Because of the nature of our lives, this can sometimes mean that negative pathways are created and then reinforced by going through recurring stressful situations or any form of trauma. Most of our days (and I use the royal ‘our’ here) are spent coping or just getting through stress. Very little time is spent reinforcing the good parts of our lives. And that’s where meditation, mindfulness and – in particular today – immersing yourself in Londolozi’s dawn chorus comes in.
Now, I know that many of you are not in a position (right now) to experience nature’s symphony first hand. And that’s why I wanted to bring it to you, wherever you find yourself. The science is telling us that just by having images of nature, and natural sounds around you can affect heart rate and alter connections in the brain.
According to a new study, they physically alter the connections in our brains, reducing our body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct.
Natural sounds and green environments have been linked with relaxation and well-being for hundreds of years, of course. But the new research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first to use brain scans, heart-rate monitors, and behavioral experiments to suggest a physiological cause for these effects. Source
Here are a few new practices to incorporate into the start of your day to bring the wilderness to you…
Sign up for our Mindfulness challenge
Sign up for our Animal Wisdom challenge
Begin (and continue) a gratitude journal
Lose yourself (just for a few minutes) in our daily virtual game drives
I would love to hear if the practice of beginning your day with the dawn chorus has benefited you in any way. Until then, enjoy this small connection to Londolozi…
Filed under Featured Healing House Life Travel Wellness
Thanks for this gift
Amanda you write beautiful blogs. I lie in my bed in the morning waitimg for the dawn chorus to start. The sunbirds calling each other to the feeder outside my window. The bulbuls chatting. Maybe a hadeda. The grey headed bush shrike in the distance. There is something magical about listening to the birds waking up. It give me energy to start my day.
Amanda, I signed up for the 7 days of Mindfulness Challenge
Such a beautiful chorus. I listened while I was getting ready this morning, but I’ll definitely be using it as a background for meditations too. I love the sounds of the morning, and this is a nice alternative to our regularly scheduled bird songs in South Carolina. Thank you.
That dawn chorus is sublime as birds sing and then take over from each other, and the sounds crescendo as the sun rises. Those sounds have a place in my heart. Even the buzzing fly is okay! And the snort? A wartie? Thank you.
Thanks for the beautiful photos and video. It is really special to watch the wonderful African sunrise and hear the manifold sounds of Londolozi here in my home.
Incredibly! During the video meditation, every time I wish the sounds of nature were still going on. I even wanted to ask you if you’d do a meditation where we’d only listen to the sounds of animals and the sound of the river, the wind.
But I didn’t want to be demanding (because I know it lasts a long time). And now you put it on… It’s like the universe has fulfilled my wish 🙂
Thank you for your inspiring words this morning. In these troubling times, the sounds of nature, our breaths can help alleviate some of the stress. I wish it was required reading for everyone who is agitated, frustrated and feeling helpless.
This is EXACTLY the sounds I need to start my day, fills my head with happy thoughts of my childhood in the Lowveld and will set me up for a super positive mindset for the day ahead. Wonderful thank you so much 🙏🏻💕💕
It was a warm summer day with the lightest breeze when I popped in my headphones to gives the dawn chorus a listen. It put me into such a state of peace I fell asleep within minutes. This will be the perfect meditation soundtrack. Thanks so much. And if anyone has not yet done the mindfulness challenges yet, do yourself a favour and sign up today!
Absolutely magical, takes me straight back there. Thank you so much, Amanda.
My day begins with coffee on my patio while listening to a huge variety of birds begin their day with their individual song. I smile as I realize that although very different, each melody is wonderful and cheerful and loud! I never tire of it.
Thanks for all the lovely gifts 🙂 I have participated in both challenges and thoroughly enjoyed them, especially the breath work. The second one came at a particularly challenging time for me so it was most welcomed. I find the sounds of our bush absolutely magical and extremely soothing, always a blessing to be able to hear it, even if it’s digitally for the time being 🙂 Much love and a beautiful week to you all
Thank you for the dawn chorus. The last two mornings i made coffee before first light, climbed back into bed, closed my eyes and immersed myself in the start of a day in the bushveld. It set a great tone for the day ahead. So special.
The sounds and sight of sunrise in the bush is a symphony for the senses. Can almost smell the dewy earth too. Perfection. Thank you!
Thank you for the Dawn Chorus Amanda. We are fortunate to have early morning birdsong here, Heuglins (Robin Chat), various Doves and others but think nothing quite beats the awakening bush dawn and sounds. First time I listened, was also just waiting for the low distant rumble of Landrovers, arriving to take us on another adventure!
So beautiful. Would love this as my alarm clock sound to wake to each working day. Hope to get to your beautiful country when this COVID-19 madness ends.
Amanda, Just getting caught up on everything from the past weeks. The Dawn Chorus is just incredible and it is the perfect way for us to start our day…. Remembering the beautiful mornings at Londolozi! Thanks for the wonderful meditations and we are hoping for more “challenges” in the future! 🙂
Love your blog ! Thank you for sharing . I go to sleep , AND wake up with the chorus !! You are very fortunate to stay, and to be in nature every day !!!!😉