Use this meditation practice when you're in nature and want to heighten your senses, or anytime you want to reduce stress or anxiety. This is a wonderful way to begin a forest bathing walk, or to simply bring yourself back to the present moment.
Find a quiet place outside to sit and spend 30 minutes silently noticing the natural world around you. If you have some woods nearby, or access to the ocean or river, wonderful! However, you can reap the rewards of nature in your own backyard, on your porch or apartment balcony. Even gazing out the window at natural surroundings or the sky has healing, immune boosting qualities. As a last resort, viewing images of nature on your television, computer, or in the form of art sends pleasing messages to your brain, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress.
Begin by making yourself comfortable. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Slowly scan your entire body from the crown of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes, noticing any discomfort. Make any adjustments or stretch to bring relief. Try to relax any tight muscles, unclench your jaw. Feel your feet rooted firmly on the ground and allow the earth to fully support you.
As we explore our many senses, allow yourself permission to tune into anything you find pleasurable. Just be with it. Acknowledge that any mechanical or man-made elements in juxtaposition to the natural world are also part of the experience. Smile and let them flow into one ear and out the other, focusing on the pleasing sensations.
Pause for 30 seconds or so and notice how the sun and fresh air greet your skin. How does it feel?
Clench your fists tightly for a few seconds, then let go and release your grip. Relax your fingers and open your palms up, noticing the weight and humidity in the atmosphere, or perhaps a slight breeze.
Take several rounds of deep, oxygen-rich breaths through your nose, inhaling for four seconds, and four seconds to exhale. Tilt your head back and lift your nose to the sky, as if you’re a wolf or a bear catching a scent. What do you smell?
Repeat that sequence of breaths, but this time, breathe through your mouth. Can you taste? As you continue to breathe deeply, consider the oxygen the plants are producing for you, and the carbon dioxide you produce for them.
Take several minutes to listen to the natural world that surrounds you. Tuning in to the sounds you find pleasurable, like a radio. What is the loudest sound? Spend a few minutes listening in to the distance. What is the faintest sound?
Now slowly open your eyes and observe the natural elements that surround you. Take your time. What movement or colors stand out to you?
After you’ve completed this sensory meditation, continue to sit quietly and observe your surroundings. What are you noticing? Journal your thoughts or share them with a friend or loved one. If you feel so inclined, draw or sketch an image that stands out from your experience.
Use this practice when you're out in nature and want to heighten your senses, or anytime you feel your mind drifting to an anxious state. Aim to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day.
About the Author
Kelly Bruce is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide/Trail Consultant and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Subscribe to her e-newsletter for more inspiration from nature and to learn about upcoming walks, workshops and retreats. Each Wednesday, she’ll provide inspiration to help you wander into wellness, naturally. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Photography by @zailaffitte.
Welcome! I'm Kelly Bruce, a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Read on for inspiration to help you improve your overall wellbeing, naturally!