This week we will:
- Put together what we have learned in the first 3 weeks
- Keep nurturing our seeds (physical and metaphorical)
- Look ahead at how to continue nature connection
- Connect to the natural world through gratitude
Review of Week 3
Last week we brought together more of our senses to detect the weather. One thing that may be evident as you do this practice a few times and bring mindfulness to your experience of the weather is how much your mood and general energy can be affected by what the weather is doing. For example, it is common to feel lifted on a sunny day and a bit more subdued on a grey day. It is worth exploring this and maybe asking yourself the question “what do I need today?” Here is an opportunity to accept your feelings as part of the natural human experience and to treat yourself with some compassion and care.
Young children naturally do not seem to be too bothered by the weather – how many times do we have to try to encourage them to put on a coat or boots to go out in the cold or rain? As we get older, we tend to be conditioned to avoid rain and cold. We talk about it in negative terms.
Here is an opportunity to challenge that conditioning. People pay good money for recordings of rainwater. It can be quite a soothing experience to sit for a while and watch the raindrops land and slide down a windowpane. Accepting the weather is a great way to practise non-judgement.
Mindful Practice for week 4
This practice is intended to be done initially indoors with the windows and doors closed, but then with us opening the window or door during the guided experience.
It is important to consider safety when doing this (especially if you are closing your eyes!). Do not forget any children or pets, who may be drawn to the open door or window too!
The audio for this practice is here
Written description of the practice:
Start by noticing your feet on the floor; noticing the sensations in your feet and the support and stability provided by the surface beneath you. Can you get a sense of feeling grounded and held in this moment?
Now becoming aware of your breath – not controlling it or changing it – just noticing where you feel the breath coming in to your body or the movement of your chest or belly with the in-breath. Noticing what it feels like to be breathing in.
You may like to use the breath to gauge your own inner weather – your general mood – noticing how you feel, without getting caught up in stories or judgements about it.
In a short while, you will be invited to open the window or door, but first take this opportunity to become aware of the sensations of being indoors. What is the overall quality or feeling for you right now? What is the air like? You could perhaps notice the temperature of the air; any humidity or dryness; perhaps there is some movement or stillness in the air?
Bringing your attention now to any sounds – not labelling them – just letting your attention move slowly from one sound to the next; or noticing any silence. Is there a certain quality to the silence – maybe not something you can express in words – just a feeling to it?
Very slowly and mindfully now, becoming aware moment by moment of the experience of transition, you can start to open the door or window. Noticing with your senses – maybe the feeling of the air on your skin, the temperature or any air movement. You may notice your breath or any smells or the sounds.
Perhaps you could take this in in a kind of wide awareness – not focusing on any one aspect, but allowing all your senses to build a picture of the wider world through the door or window.
Then perhaps bringing your attention just to the sounds. Noticing whether there is a musical quality to the sounds around you – even traffic can be part of the song (people are nature too). Notice that Nature is reaching you in this moment.
You might like to notice the sound of your breath, mingling with the sounds, not separate, but very much a part of your surroundings, As you breathe, reflecting that you are Nature. Noticing nature inside your body as the process of breathing and the senses connecting the outside world with your body and brain.
You are not just an observer. Every breath you are exchanging vital molecules with the world around – part of Life’s great cycle.
Now, gently shift your attention back to your feet on the floor, once again connecting with the feeling of being supported, stable and grounded.
You may like to gently move your fingers or toes.
If your eyes have been closed, you can slowly open them.
Reflection on the practice: As this is our last week of the course, I have included the reflection here.
I find this activity really helps to bring home the impact of the natural world on us – on our bodies, our senses, our emotions. It also highlights just how close we are to Nature and how it is in and around us. Hopefully you have also been able to start to tune in to the realisation that you are Nature. You are not separate from it, even indoors with a physical barrier to the wider world. It is just quieter. There is less going on
Suggested journal or Facebook share: You can jot down a few notes about the experience of this practice. What did you notice most strongly? How did it feel indoors and “outdoors.” Were you able to feel yourself as part of Nature?
Activity for week 4: Mindful Eating and Gratitude
You will need to find a piece of fruit or a vegetable (or a herb) that is ready for eating. It could be a tomato, an apple, a banana, some cucumber etc. Whatever you choose needs to be in its natural state (no strawberry jam or baked beans for this one!) It can be particularly good if it is something you have grown yourself.
When you are ready, perhaps start by just looking at your piece of food. Noticing the colours, any shininess or reflection, the visual texture – really taking in the details. You may like to notice any feelings as you do this or whether you are perhaps anticipating eating it.
This is a good point to reflect on how it came to be here. Perhaps starting by thinking about it growing from a seed, about the goodness in the soil and the sun and rain that helped it to grow. Then maybe calling to mind the person who planted it and tended to it and the people who picked it and possibly transported it to you. If it was bought in a shop, calling to mind all the people who helped there – putting it on the shelves, running it through the checkout and so on. Is it possible to get in touch with feelings of gratitude for all of the nature that brought this to you – the sun, rain, soil, pollinating insects, the plant itself and all the people?
When you are ready, pick up your piece of food and feel it in your fingers. What are the textures like? Is it hard or soft? Is it the same all over?
Now, bring it to your nose and notice the smell. What happens as you do this? Are you anticipating eating it? Does it bring any memories or feelings? What arises for you?
When you are ready, prepare to place it in your mouth, but do this very slowly and mindfully. Resist the urge to chew and swallow it straight away. You could perhaps hold it in your mouth for a few seconds and just feel round it with your tongue, noticing what arises as you do this. Where are you holding it in your mouth? What do you notice about the flavours?
Then, very slowly and mindfully start to chew it, noticing your teeth and tongue. Also notice the flavours and the texture and perhaps how it changes as you eat it.
When you are ready, you can swallow it and follow it as far as you are able as it passes into your body. How did you choose when to swallow it? Is there any flavour left in your mouth?
Reflection on the exercise: This exercise takes an activity (eating) we often do on autopilot while we do other tasks. How was it to eat in this way? Did you feel connected with nature as you did this? Eating is another natural process and something we often observe animals doing, as an essential driver of our daily behaviours, animals and humans alike.
You might like to try this activity in a similar way while drinking a glass of water.
Suggested journal or Facebook share: Once more, you are invited to share your experiences of the exercise either in your journal or with others.
This course is really only the beginning of your nature connection journey. There are a number of nature connection guides, including me, offering opportunities to join guided experiences online or in person. You can find guides in this directory.
There are some lovely books, including Mindfulness and the Natural World by Claire Thompson, The Nature Instinct by Tristan Gooley, Natural Mindfulness by Ian Banyard and Rewild Yourself by Simon Barnes.
Further ideas will be posted in my blog and in the Facebook group.