After spending a lot of time outside this summer and inspired by two wonderful training courses, I didn’t want to automatically go back to my mainly indoors, desk-based life as Autumn approached. So I set myself a nature connection challenge: to have a regular “nature snack” where I sit (or stand or walk slowly) outside, once a day for at least 5 minutes and give myself time to re-connect, wonder and just be.
One month in, I am finding taking time out in nature is hugely refreshing. As I sit, I’ve felt so much more connected to my senses: I smell the scent of wet plants, feel the warmth of the sun or the humidity of the air, see the patterns and movement of leaves in the breeze and hear the liquid thrum of bird song. Occasionally I taste too, munching on a nearby herb. I’ve been in awe of close up encounters with passing wildlife – big fat bumble-bees, midges dancing in an endless intricate pattern in a patch of sunlight (what on earth are they up to?) and a robin fluttering silently from perch to perch around my feet, turning its head to look me directly in the eye.
I often get distracted and my mind wanders off, but whenever this happens, I just come back to noticing nature each time. And when dogs bark, builders drill, people shout, rain falls or I find it hard to get outside in the first place, with all the stories going round and round in my head about how much I need to do inside instead, I have found having a routine, keeping a nature-connection journal and having my outdoor clothes within easy reach all helps.
I’ve found coming back to one familiar spot very valuable, and easier than searching for new places to sit each day. My nature-sit spot is a seat in my garden. But it’s also fun, when out and about or visiting friends, to sit in other spaces, from a park bench to a peaceful corner in a nature reserve.
How is it going? Well I can’t say I’ve done it every day and I have wimped out in bad weather on some days. However, when I do make the time and space, I feel much more alive and at one with nature. I’ve noticed it helps me re-centre myself and focus on what’s important in the rest of my day and avoid digital distractions. And I’m more prayerful, thankful, and just full of wonder for how awesome nature is.