“We can never have enough of nature.”
– Henry David Thoreau
Time and again, studies suggest spending time in nature can be beneficial to our total wellbeing. So can mindfulness, so why not combine the two? Try the following mindfulness practice the next time you escape into nature (and pass it along to your co-workers to try as well). The best part is you can do it anywhere the great outdoors takes you – at the beach, on a hike, at a local park or in the privacy of your own backyard.
- Start by drawing in the fresh air with a deep breathing exercise. Take slow deep breaths through your nose (your stomach should expand farther than your chest), then slowly exhale through your mouth releasing all the air you took in.
- Take a moment to stand still before your adventure. Close your eyes and focus on the subtle movements your body requires to maintain your balance. Let this represent the balance you’re seeking by escaping to nature.
- Begin walking, being mindful of your feet coming into contact with the ground and tuning into the sound of your strides – the rustling of leaves or gravel below. Start synchronizing your breaths with your steps, inhaling as you step forward and exhaling when you take your next step with that same foot.
- Be present to the presence of everything around you. There’s a lot of wildlife you’re sharing this habitat with that you’re unaware of.
- Summon your senses; pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. Focus on the details that can be easily missed.
- Look up at a tree and take in its grandeur, then zero in on a single leaf to examine its intricate features.
- Check out a flower close up. Appreciate its delicacies, beauty and vibrant colors.
- Bend down to the ground; do you see any living creatures? What’s going on underfoot as you walk?
- Take in textures – touch the earth or the bark of a tree. This is another approach for comprehending the complex details of your surroundings.
- Watch birds and butterflies fluttering by. Revel in what’s involved in them taking flight and observe their flight patterns. Let your cares float away like these creatures.
- Look at the sky. Are clouds forming interesting shapes or patterns? Is the sun shining through these formations or casting beautiful hues across the horizon?
- Keep scanning your surroundings – is there a mountain range, rock formation or forest? Enjoy the landscape from a distance for the feelings it elicits, then get closer to discover the details that contribute to its magnificence.
As with life, it’s all about perspective and what you bring to it. A nature walk can be a simple excursion to fit in some exercise or a transformative experience that evokes awe.
“How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative,” Jill Suttie, greatergood.berkeley.edu, March 2, 2016.