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We have just launched our self-guided mindful tour here at St Fagans National Museum of History. The tour is through the gardens around St Fagans Castle. Our new free fold-out map of the gardens encourages visitors to take in their surroundings and explore their different senses.

The idea of the tour came from my own experience of using mindfulness for my mental health. St Fagans Castle gardens are beautiful all year round with animals and plants to see whatever the time of year. It is also a place where you can usually find a bit of quiet even during our busier times. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and focusing on individual senses. It’s surprising how much passes us by when we’re focused on our busy lives. Just stopping and concentrating on what you can smell or hear can help in times of stress.

Having the opportunity to walk around the gardens and take in the sights, sounds, smells and textures of nature has been very calming for me. My particular favourite is the Italian Garden in the summer with the running fountain. I feel incredibly lucky to work somewhere where I can do this and I wanted to share it with everyone who visits St Fagans.

Last summer I created a draft plan of a map to test with staff and community groups. Even though it was a very basic map at the time the feedback was very positive:

"Wir wedi mwynhau’r daith - diolch Joe! Braf cael cyfle i grwydro gerddi’r castell a mwynhau’r awyr iach. Diolch!"

“Lovely and peaceful, I like the sound of the water. The gardens were beautiful and very relaxing.”

"Wedi mwynhau gwylio’r colomennod ar ben y colomendy."

“Lots of quiet, secluded areas to sit down. I did find myself stopping to take note of my senses – smelling leaves, listening to the birds”

"Gall hwn fod un o highlights newydd SF"

“It felt like I had permission to take time and look and explore which was so nice.”

The feedback fed into the creation of the final version. It is designed by Frank Duffy who has done a great job of the illustrations and the look of the map. The map was funded by the Armed Forces Covenant who have supported a range of innovative events, displays and programmes at the Museum since 2014. One of the aims of the funding is to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families, so the concept of the mindfulness walk fitted in perfectly with the Covenant’s objectives. Members of the Armed Forces community had a first look at the new maps on 9th December 2019 with very positive feedback for how it could be used to help those living with mental ill health.

Try the tour out for yourself by picking up a copy at St Fagans. The map is available at the front desk or you can download a PDF version here.

Joe Lewis

Learning, Participation and Interpretation Officer

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