At least once a week, I like to make sure I soak up the sounds and scents of nature. Away from home. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city (or, in my case, the town); away from everything.
I’ll admit, it’s a little harder to do that when it gets cold. Then there are winter’s obligations to spend time with family and hunker down on the shorter days.
But, nature allows you to slow down and reconnect.
When I can’t get out of state (or even get too far away from home within North Carolina), I love to go to local places that hold a lot of beauty.
The Purchase is one of my favorite places near where I live. Husby and I will pack a picnic and hike to the top. It’s a steep climb, but it’s only about a mile or two long. The views at the top are breathtaking.
There is a house at the top that was donated to the park service. Students sometimes stay up there to study different trees, animals and rocks.
Usually on the weekends, though, not a lot of people are around.
This is when husby and I agree to silent contemplation of the beauty. We won’t speak for a period of time so that we can do a bit of active meditation: listening and focusing on the sound of our steps, the sound of the wind, the sights of early autumn (as in the picture above), the goldenrod flowers, the blue mountains, the scent of oncoming rain.
It really is ecstasy for the senses.
Another place that I like to visit is called Pink Beds along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is relatively level, with beautiful rock outcroppings and crystal clear water from natural springs in the mountains.
I am always grateful for such beauty. Again, husby and I will spend time in silence as we walk and hear the gentle crunching of earth beneath our feet, the calming trickle of water, the wind rustling through summer leaves…
Indeed, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a gift. Many trails and overlooks provide plenty of breathtaking adventures and sites to see.
Another spot I love is called the Devil’s Courthouse. It’s another spot along the Parkway with trails spinning off from the main trail up to the rock outcropping.
The photo below, however, is from the top of the rocks. Autumn was just beginning and you can see splotches of color starting to show through the greenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains:
But…nature. Short or long walks in the plein aire.
As I hike along these places, I think about the Cherokee Native American Indians who roamed all these lands before the White Man ever set foot here.
I think about the perfect balance that is the forest, grateful for the beauty that surrounds me where I live. I also realize that not every place in the US beholds such beauty. Or…it comprises a different kind of beauty.
The plains areas that make up eastern Wyoming, Kansas, and chunks of South Dakota where I visited last summer are flat and open. Many folks are farmers. I wondered how “people got out in nature” there.
Honestly, taking a hike in the mountains, a stroll along a country road, or walking the dog, all involve the same movements of moving those feet.
It is then easy to turn it into a mindfulness nature meditation.
How to do a Nature Walk Meditation
When you are moving around and engaging in an activity other than sitting and focusing on your breathing, you can do what’s called an “active meditation.”
Active meditation merely involves clearing your mind and focusing on exactly what you are doing right at that moment.
Thus, if you are hiking, it’s becoming silent and focusing on the act of hiking itself. You also let yourself become aware of your breathing, of the beauty around you, of the sounds you might hear. But, instead of letting your mind wander, you focus on the present moment of hiking and looking.
Now, it’s “easier said than done” when it comes to clearing the mind – especially if you’re new to meditating.
To that, my answer is this: the mind was created to think, to focus.
You’re just learning to focus on new things – things that will rejuvenate you and feed your soul.
Whether you are jogging, mountain biking, skateboarding, walking your dog, or any other activity that requires you to be up and moving, you can always turn it into a meditation.
- If someone is with you while you are doing an activity, agree to be silent for five, ten, or even twenty minutes.
- Clear your mind by gently focusing on your breathing. Breathe in cooler air from outside, and then breathe out air warmed from your body. Feel the gentle breeze from breathing out on the top of your lip. That’s one cycle. Do this for ten cycles.
- While keeping your breathing steady, now begin to focus on what your body is doing. Feel your muscles working. Feel your legs moving or your arms swinging. Feel the gentle way your clothes gently rub against your skin. Feel any beads of sweat bubbling on the surface of your skin.
- Continue this awareness. If thoughts creep in, pretend that that thought is a rolling cloud and watch it roll by.
- Become aware of the sounds you hear as your body moves: do rocks crunch under your feet? Do your pedals squeak if you’re riding? Do you hear pounding from each foot as you run?
- Now expand your awareness to your surroundings. Do you hear birds? Do you feel the warm rays of the sun? What does your nose smell? What colors do your eyes see? What is the terrain like where you are?
- Continue this awareness as you move through your active meditation.
- When you’re finished, gently thank your body and mind for allowing you to take a moment. In return, you’ll gain a greater awareness of the present moment – with many benefits, such as the feeling that time is slowing down, or more mental clarity.
Natural Elements Meditation Coloring Book
Sometimes it’s difficult to make it outside to do an active meditation, such as when it’s too dark outside or your too exhausted after a hard day of work.
When that happens, and you still want to find ways to relax with nature-related activities, here’s a solution: a coloring meditation with natural elements.
These are drawings I compiled from a lot of work in 2015 and 2016. My favorite utensil to use is Sharpie marker. They’re inexpensive and I buy them by the box because I’ll definitely wear them out with all the drawing I do. I love the crisp black lines that I can make.
This is my gift to you for being part of the Intuitive and Spiritual Community. If you have already signed up before, don’t worry. You won’t get a “duplicate” subscription.