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What May Surprise you While Meditating in Nature: Using Your Senses to Connect and Reflect

I recently took a nature walk at a local wildlife sanctuary where I used mindfulness and meditation skills to sit with the experience and stay mindful of each moment. I was somewhat surprised at how overcome I was with connection and peace, and it was interesting to observe what thoughts were not crossing my mind. Here are three things that I observed using my senses that I hope you will think about the next time you take a walk outside in the fresh air.

1.) Colors-What colors do you see? I noticed the different shades of brown on all the various types of trees, and I noticed how green everything was at this time of year. The green leaves were rich and vibrant, and I noticed the colors that the sun illuminated on the branches and leaves. The rays of the sun created changes in the way I saw each leaf and each tree. While you are walking outside, what colors do you notice? Do you see the colors differently as clouds pass over?

2.) Sounds-What all do you hear around you? As I sat on a park bench and closed my eyes, I heard birds singing. I thought to myself, “I wonder what all they are communicating to each other?” I heard the wind blowing through the trees, and every so often, I would hear a squirrel jumping around in the leaves. The sounds of nature will speak to you if you listen. What is nature saying to you?

3.) Peaceful thoughts-What types of thoughts are you noticing that you are not having? This was something that dawned on me once I finished the walk and had time to reflect on the experience. Mindful meditation requires us to stay so focused on our senses in the present moment that we are no longer focused on life’s problems and stress. I noticed that the connection I had made with nature created such a peaceful existence that in those moments, there was no room for stress and anxiety. That is not to say that you may not experience deep thoughts while taking walks through nature. In fact, nature walks can sometimes bring about “ah hah” moments while we take the time to reflect and make important decisions. However, if we stay keenly present on meditating in nature, we will become so focused on connection that our mind’s will have very little room for disconnecting into a world full of life’s stressors.

The next time you take a nature walk, ask yourself, "What is nature saying to me and in what ways is it saying it? How am I connected to all that I am sensing in this moment, and what am I noticing a disconnect from ? What is one important message that I can take from this experience?"

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Photo taken by Monica Coulter in McKinney, Texas, 2016.

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