As fear about the state of the natural world grows, there is an increasing call within us to ‘get back to nature.’ Most of us have experienced a sense of profound awe, peace, and wonder when in a natural environment that inspires us, so why not bring our mindfulness practice to these places?
Exploring mindfulness in nature is a healing practice that nourishes both us and the environment we move through. On a personal level, it helps us to feel connected to the earth and at peace where we stand. As we establish this connection, it guides us to tread more lightly upon the earth and to make choices that respect and protect the planet we are an integral part of. Bringing our attention to the natural world is therefore a mutually-enhancing exercise, one that bridges the spiritual and the material.
So where do we begin? How exactly do we practice mindfulness in the natural environment we are a part of?
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
- Albert Einstein -
The following mindfulness nature walk practice is one example of how you can tune in to the natural world with mindfulness. You can use this as a framework for your nature exploration, but remember to allow nature to be your ultimate guide. Follow the calls of your heart as you open your senses to the remarkable world around you.
How to Explore Mindfulness in Nature
Practicing mindfulness in nature need not be formal; however, by mindfully preparing yourself for a day in the woods, beach, or other natural landscape, you help to cultivate your intention to be fully present. So in preparation, ensure that you have a good length of time to settle into the natural world. Pack a bag with any water, tea, or snacks you might desire, grab a pen and a journal, and then bundle up to head outdoors.
1. Make your way to a natural environment that inspires you.
A mindfulness nature walk is one of the best ways to connect with the earth. Take a journey to any place that inspires you. It need not be the deep woods; a park or small pond will do.
2. Find a place to rest for a while (so long as weather permits).
Assuming you are well prepared for the weather of the day, find a place to safely and comfortably rest for a while. Whether seated or standing, take a moment to ground into the earth beneath you. Feel your connection to the natural world through your seat or through your feet. Take five cleansing breaths.
"I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."
- Wendell Berry, from ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ -
3. Move through your senses to fully explore the world around you.
Now, allow the world around you to filter through each of your senses with openness and curiosity. Let your eyes, ears, nose, and sense of touch take it all in. If you’ve brought a snack, savor that as well, noting that it was the earth that provided you with this treat. Spend ten minutes just absorbing the world around you.
Then, see if you can notice the stillness and silence within nature. Listen to Eckhart Tolle explore being fully in nature.
4. Notice the energies present within and around you.
Next, notice what energies are present in the landscape you are within. Whatever you observe, see if you can sense a reflection of that within you. Leave judgments about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behind you, just noticing what is present here. Energies you might note include:
As you observe these energies, ensure that you are meeting them with non-judgment and curiosity. An opportunity found in nature is that we can meet the world exactly as it is. In the natural world, all energies and all seasons are vital and serve a purpose. Open your heart to the season around you and to the one within you with care, tenderness, and patience.
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson -
5. Spend some time journaling.
Pull out your pen and notebook and spend some time journaling. You might allow your thoughts to free-flow through you, or you can use any of the following mindful journal prompts:
If journaling is difficult for you, you might also use this time to draw and doodle or to write down any words that come to your mind. In other words, what you do with your pen and paper is up to you. You could write a short story, a poem, or sketch a fallen leaf. The choice is yours.
Take all the time you need to explore these mindfulness in nature practices. Remember that this is just a general framework. Adapt it as it suits you and the environment you are in.
To close your practice, pack up your belongings and root yourself into the earth once again. Take five long, cleansing breaths, offering gratitude to the world for supporting you here. Mindfully make your way home, carrying with you whatever insights, energies, and awakenings you uncovered here in the natural world.
For more mindfulness in nature exercises, check out: