Nature Journaling as a Mindfulness Practice

Nature Journaling as a Mindfulness Practice

0 0

If you’re anything like me, thoughts race through your brain all day. No matter what I am doing, I hear a constant inner chatter of what I SHOULD BE doing instead. However, when I take a short walk into the nature and sit down with my journal to record my observations or sketch something nearby, my thoughts slip from the chaos in my head to the object I am focused on… & I become fully focused and absorbed into my immediate surroundings. This is where I become fully present.

Mindfulness, or ‘being in the moment’ is making a deliberate choice to pay attention to your surroundings. Mindfulness deepens our connection to the world around us by encouraging us to shelve our expectations and be open to noticing things exactly as they are. To do so is to censure your thoughts, with compassion, without judgment and with an open-minded inquisitiveness. I often use my nature journaling practice as a mindfulness practice. It definitely gets me in the moment and allows me to forget the chaos of the day.

I had played with journaling since childhood but wasn’t introduced to the practice of nature journaling until much later. My grad school professor required Nature Journaling in a very unstructured way. She didn’t care about the statistical variance of anything and that’s what I had previously been taught. I never thought it would “stick” as they say. My reasons for continuing to nature journal included wanting to improve my drawing skills, to tune-in to seasonal rhythms and to learn more about where I live. Those reasons still apply to my nature journaling today, but the greatest benefit I have gained from the process is the practice of being fully present with nature. I use the prompts “I notice, I wonder, & it reminds me of” to deepen the practice of mindfulness when the chatter won’t go away.

“In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.” ~ Zen master Suzuki Roshi

Using a ‘beginner’s mind’, allows us to look at things as if you are seeing something for the first time. Instead of knowing you are looking at a leaf, try thinking of it as just a collection of colors, held within a shape. What can you see? What additional details do you start to notice? How does this make you feel?

Our natural world is an amazing treasure of shape, color, texture, taste, scent, and sound. As I draw, and journal, I am continually reminded that paying close attention to the small things is a pathway for connection to the bigger world around us. Our journals are full of records of where we have placed our mindful attention. Whether we write, sketch, annotate, or do all three, they reflect what we have noticed about how something looks/moves, feels, tastes, smells and/or sounds.

Some of my favorite Mindful Nature Journaling Activities

Sit Spots – Find a spot and visit it often. Journal the changes you notice.

Sound Maps – Deep listening of the world around you. I record both the natural and man- made sounds on my map.

3X3s – Find a 3ft square spot and observe 3 things in the square that catch your attention. Spend up to 20 minutes journaling about each one.

1 Thing – Find 1 thing that catches your attention and spend time really getting to know it. I sometimes even ask the world what I need to bring my attention to.

Wanderings – Spend time on a trail with wonder and awe. I invite you to observe- immerse – truly see – truly feel. Open yourself to the possibility that the world is more mysterious and magical than you have yet experienced. Use your senses and emotions – deep listening, soft vision, natural scents, receptive to touch & open to wonder while you wander on the trail. Create a journal page or two as you encounter awe-inspiring observations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.