– a deep thought about something or philosophical ruminations about life and humanity.
In my own instance, rumination can be described as the regurgitation of negative feelings, significant events and times of hurt from the past. Whatever way I try to replay these events and scenarios, the outcome is always the same – anxiety, depression or feelings of low self-worth.
I spend quite a bit of time ruminating, something I try to avoid as much as possible but nevertheless, something I do often.
Rumination Studies at Stanford University
Several years ago, professors in Stanford University created a study in which hundreds of students were tasked with an afternoon stroll in one of two locations – a city neighborhood and a grassy woodland. Having spent one hour in either one of these locations, the subjects were then handed a questionnaire which was designed to calculate a specific level of rumination.
Without going into any great detail, the findings of this study clearly demonstrated how the walkers who spent this time in nature, produced a distinctly low level of rumination compared to those who remained in the city. Furthermore, the professors concluded that nature enables one to see the world in a different light and hence, encourages people to ignore rumination for the sake of realizing any given moment.
Moral of the story: there is often little distraction in the great outdoors other than the presence of nature and for this reason, the most common complications in life can feel rather unnecessary in the face of something so beautifully simple.
To ruminate, or not to ruminate
And I completely agree with the above findings because this is exactly how I feel in the outdoors. Although rumination is sometimes unavoidable, when I spend an extended period in the outdoors, trekking across landscapes, camping in the mountains or watching a sunset over the ocean, these feelings subside to the point of absence.
Far from the noise and distractions, it seems wonderfully clear that pondering unnecessary thoughts does little to improve the quality of my life. In fact, it was this realization that attracted me to spend so much time outdoors in the first place and later, to pursue a career as an outdoor adventurer.
I still ruminate of course but spending so much time outdoors enables me to avoid this tiresome process and be mindful when faced with unnecessary thoughts. In this sense, I seem to have replaced rumination with the great outdoors and unnecessary thoughts with the natural beauty of the world before my eyes.
It may come across as a rather simple theory but then again, this is the entire point of the process.