Spending time connecting with nature can improve creativity, happiness, and overall health and wellbeing. Here is a short activity I invite you to practice, connecting you with the Natural World.
Grab a notebook or piece of paper and something to write with and find a quiet space where you can observe nature. Any spot will do. How are you feeling prior to this exercise? What is the quality of your thoughts? There are no right or wrong answers and whatever you are thinking and/or feeling is valid. Do not try to change your thoughts or feelings-just pay notice! Take out your notebook and record what you have observed.
If you are comfortable, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to come into the moment and unplug from the “to dos” of the day. Slow your breathing, matching your inhale to your exhale, perhaps to the count of 4 or 5. Practice this a few times. Allowing yourself to relax. Letting go of the tension you may carry with you. This tension is a symptom of overstimulation.
Next begin to tune into your senses, noticing nature, and the lessons being offered at this moment.
Opening your eyes, notice your sense of sight. What do you see as you sit with nature? What colors are around you? Are there animals? Plants? Where is your attention? Don’t forget to look in all directions, including above and below you! Take a moment and reflect on everything you have seen.
Closing your eyes again, bring your awareness to your sense of hearing. What sounds do you hear as you quiet your mind and submerge yourself in nature? Do you hear animals? The wind? Is it hard to find quiet? That is okay, too. Write this down.
Moving on to your sense of touch. If you are sitting, notice your seat, and if you are standing notice your feet. What else can you touch? Explore this sense as deeply as you desire. Perhaps reaching out to touch the nature in your space. Make note where both choice and circumstance allowed your body to touch nature.
The next sense we will visit is smell. What do you smell in nature? Are the scents pleasant? Unpleasant? Spend a few moments noticing all the smells nature has provided you within this moment. Where does your attention go? Whatever scents you smell, write this down.
Lastly, moving to your sense of taste. Can you dig deep and taste nature? What does nature taste like? Is it cold or warm? Sweet or sour? Are there specific flavors you can taste on your tongue? Write this down.
Once you have explored all of your senses, take a few moments to bring yourself back to your breath. Bringing your attention back to your body and quality of thoughts, revisit how you are feeling. Has it changed at all since you started? Take note of any change which may have occurred within you and write down anything of interest.
Practice this exercise a few times over the course of next week. If you can, practice every day! After the week has passed, go back to the start of your notes and review what you have written. Do you notice any similarities? Any differences? What has this time spent in nature created for you?
Interested in more ways to connect with nature or why nature is so supportive of wellness? Here are some articles which inspired the writing of this exercise:
- PsychologyToday.com : Why Connecting with Nature Elevates Your Mental Health
- AARP.org : Forest Bathing Mental Health
- Mind.org: How Nature Benefits Mental Health