Next time you step outside, try these three simple practices to be fully present to the benefits of nature.
We often have the perception that nature is remote. It’s somewhere out there in the distance, and to fully access it and benefit from it we have to leave our workaday lives behind. Wherever we are, nature surrounds us and we’re a part of it.
Symphonies of birdsong play overhead as we load groceries into our car trunk. The tangy scent of earth dampened by dew fills the morning air. And even alongside highway on-ramps, flowers grow.
Biomimicry expert Jane Benyus has said when she’s outside she tries to quiet her analytical mind. She listens, observes, and puts herself in the presence of nature, allowing its beauty and surprise to unfold before her.
We can do the same whether we’re walking along city streets or sitting quietly in a meadow. Next time you step outside or travel deep into the wilderness, try the following mindfulness perspectives and practices to invite the wonder of nature into your life and learn a bit from its majesty.
1) Open Your Senses to the Outdoors
Whenever you’re outside, open up your senses. See the sky overhead, feel the ground beneath your every step, look for insects that might be hiding in narrow sidewalk cracks. Nature can be warm, wondrous, and welcoming, but also raw, gray, and punishing. When we allow nature to be just as we find it, our perspective widens, inviting delight or invigoration and helping us put our daily worries into perspective, even if only for a few moments.
2) Get Outside More Often
Whether we realize it or not, we spend most of our time indoors. In doing so we cut ourselves off from the wide-ranging benefits of being in nature, which include everything from lessening depression to boosting our immune systems. As we begin our day, we can become more mindful about the indoor/outdoor balance we’re striking. And if we’ve had a roof over our head for too long, we can plan a walk, a day at the beach, or a hike in the woods.
3) Marvel at Nature’s Genius
Awe is a powerfully uplifting emotion and most everything in nature is awesome—whether
it’s a raspberry-sherbet-colored sunset or the elegantly repeating spirals found in the bright-yellow center of a daisy. We can invite more awe into our daily lives by marveling at nature’s genius. Next time you’re outdoors, take a few moments to bring your full, patient attention to an aspect of the natural world. It can be something as small as a blade of grass or as all-encompassing as a mountain vista, as mild as a mud puddle or as fearsome as a lightning storm. By more closely observing the natural world, we can discover the splendor we often take for granted but that always surrounds us.
When we’re facing the unknown, our thoughts and emotions often go into overdrive and we lose sight of being kind to ourselves. Mark Bertin reminds us that we are not alone and offers a practice to work with uncertainty.