“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.” ~ E.B. White
Discovering Our Natural Self
Paraphrased from: Michael Cohen’s Reconnecting With Nature
1) Go to a natural area– anything that is attractive to you– a plant, animal, mineral, or place.
2) Ask for its permission to become involved with it. Gain its consent to help you with this activity. Do the following activity once you are sure the natural thing you selected continues to give you some sort of comfortable, attractive feeling. Be sure that you like this natural attraction.
3) Write down what you like and why. This may be as simple as:
The (plant, animal, mineral, place, thing in this natural area) that I like is _____________. I like it because ____________.
1) Change the second part of the sentence to “I like myself because __________.
2) Read it to others if possible. Does it describe part of you?
Example: “I like the tree because it is beautiful and strong” becomes “I like myself because I am beautiful and strong.”
You are nature. Does this describe some aspect of yourself? How do you feel about yourself in this light?
“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” ~ Gregory Bateson
Listening to Nature
(Created by Nature + Erin Waterman)
1) Go to a natural area– anything that is attractive to you and ask for its permission to help you with this activity.
2) Get comfortable, close your eyes, and listen for 3 minutes to every sound you can hear.
3) At the end of the 3 minutes, write down everything you were able to hear in the natural area you chose. Did you hear your heartbeat? Your own breath? How many sounds did you hear outside of yourself?
4) If you have coloring tools, try to draw a colorful image of what you heard, as simple as you want or as detailed.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir
Earth Energy Battery Recharge
1) Find a place that feels safe to lie down on the ground. Ask this place for permission to help recharge your energy.
2) Imagine you are a rechargeable battery needing replenishment. Lie comfortably on the ground for at least 10 minutes and try to relax your entire body on the earth.
3) Try this for as many consecutive days as you can, marking a green check on a calendar for each day, meaning you have sustained a minimum of “green time” or “vitamin G.”
4) After 10 consecutive days, write about any changes you notice. Are you overall more relaxed? Less anxiety about little things? Huge insights come to you? Realize how exhausted you really are?
5) After 20 consecutive days, congratulations! You are fully charged and conscious of how Earth’s energy benefits you.
“There is one common flow, one common breathing, all things are in sympathy.” ~ Hippocrates circa 450 B.C.
(After the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku”: Shinrin-Yoku video)
1) Go to a wooded area you find attractive. Ask this place for permission to help you with this activity.
2) Walk as long as you like paying attention to the living community that surrounds you. If something draws your attention, go toward it. Wander.
3) Imagine a string between you and every sound and sight and touch you experience.
4) Write down the 3 most important things you learned from this activity. Does this activity improve your sense of self worth? What did you feel?
Walk in Beauty
Here is a version of the Navajo “In Beauty May I Walk”
All my life I have enjoyed walking without headphones while 99% of the folks passing me carried Walkmans in the ’80s and now iPhone earbuds. The song that comes to me spontaneously on long stretches is the Hopi “Now I Walk in Beauty.”
1) Put on some comfortable shoes and start walking.
2) Feel your effort as you move through space and time.
3) Try saying the chant below to yourself to fit your pace. Do you feel any different than walking without it?
Now I Walk In Beauty
Beauty is before me.
Beauty is behind me, above and below me.
4) Write down 3 things you learned from this exercise.
Create Wholeness – Mandala Making
Go somewhere in the natural world that draws you. Take a moment to feel intention of creating wholeness or healing for yourself or for the world. Search the area for nature’s gifts to place in a mandala or four-direction circle. Draw or take a photo of your creation. Leave it for any passerby or creature to happen upon. Every time I do this, I always feel less fragmented, more whole. Express gratitude in some way to the area that gifted you this wholeness before you carry on your way.
Find A Miracle
Once while leading a group of inter-generational people on a treasure hunt activity from my book, Naturography, a six-year-old created the mother of all challenges. She asked, “Can we search for pizza in the woods?” The photo below is what we found.