Six Interesting Ways Nature Can Inspire Our Mindfulness Practice
Nature is an amazing, diverse and meaningful mindfulness tool.
There are many different ways it can inspire your mindfulness practice and in this article, I've shared six interesting ways you can use nature to be more mindful!
A beautiful way to use water in a mindful way is when you're in the shower. Focus on the sensations of the water, including the temperature, the impact of it hitting your skin and the feeling of it travelling down your body.
You can also practice a simple meditation by imagining the water washing away feelings of frustration, anger, stress, tiredness, self-doubt, or fear. As the water washes away the old and leaves you feeling new and refreshed, you can pay attention to how this creates changes in your body. Perhaps you feel lighter, like a heaviness has been lifted from your shoulders. Maybe you feel more ready to face the rest of your day.
Where we have learned to plan, be distracted, multi-task and reflect, animals are incredibly present. I watch my dog playing with his toys and running around outside and it's clear how naturally mindfulness comes to him!
If you have a pet, they can be wonderful reminders to take some time to be mindful. Focus on playing with them, or teaching them a new trick, or brushing their fur.
For anyone without a pet, your mindfulness practice can still be inspired by animals! Watch a video of jellyfish and notice the calming, slow movements they make. Go to a zoo or aquarium and pay attention to all of the different animals you come across. Watch a documentary and learn new ways to be mindful by watching animals being completely in the now and taking life one step at a time.
Noticing the different colours of nature is such a simple and fun way to be more mindful! Looking out my window right now, I can see blue sky, wispy white clouds, different shades of green leaves and a pink flower with a yellow centre. This beautiful array of colours can be easy to overlook (especially if we see the same scenery regularly!), however, taking a little bit of time to notice it and appreciate it is a quick way to be more mindful.
For a mindful activity, you might like to go exploring and make it your mission to notice as many colours as you can! Find a local garden or nursery to wander through, or go to the beach (particularly at sunrise or sunset). Simply notice as many colours as you can and immerse yourself in the experience of them.
Close your eyes and tune in to your sense of sound. What can you hear? Over about twenty seconds, I can hear my dog snoring, the whirring of the heater, traffic and sudden outbursts from different types of birds (one sounds like a crow). Some of these sounds aren't from nature, but that's ok! I might not have noticed the natural sounds if I didn't also notice the unnatural. You can try this practice at any time, but it is a particularly lovely mindfulness practice for when you're outside. Go for a walk through the park and take some time to sit on a chair and listen. Head to the beach and hear the sounds of the waves. Pay attention to the surprising, interesting and often beautiful sounds nature creates and allow yourself to be immersed in this mindfulness practice for a while.
Flowers can be beautiful mindful reminders at work and in your home. Pick some flowers (or buy them) and keep them in a vase somewhere you will see them regularly. Every time you notice them, pause for a moment and take a few deep breaths before continuing on with your day. Mindfulness practices do not need to be complicated or challenging- you can discover simple ways to be more mindful all throughout your day by using reminders like flowers (or cacti, succulents, bonsai trees or whatever else might take your fancy!).
I follow quite a few Instagram accounts which regularly post photos of natural and beautiful landscapes and every time I see one, I stop and take a mindful moment. I explore the different elements of the photo, such as water, clouds, the sky, colours, plants and animals. I love that even though I don't live near the beach, I can be inspired by other people's experiences of it and practice mindfulness.
I enjoy exploring in real life, too, which gives me amazing opportunities to be mindful! When I visit my hometown, I'm surrounded by landscapes, including mountains (sometimes snow!), bushland and the river. I consciously take the time to look and appreciate what I can see and let go of everything else going on in my mind, even if it's only for a few seconds.