Mastering Nature Awareness

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Mastering Nature Awareness

In this masterclass, Mastering Nature Awareness, you will learn

  • Why nature awareness is important
  • How to practice mindfulness in nature
  • How to interact with nature using all your senses

This masterclass, is all about learning to develop mindful nature awareness. I will help guide you through a series of exercises and field activities to help you awaken your senses and tune in to your surroundings so that you are able to begin walking with mindfulness and deepen your connection to the nature around you. You will also start practicing hands-on connection to the trees, plants, moss, grass and other life forms. This Mastering Nature Awareness masterclass will help you walk in nature with openness, mindfulness and awareness and truly tune in and connect to the environment and life around you.

If you dream of walking in Nature, noticing all the wonderful details and life living and growing around you, and being able to connect to nature on a much deeper level, this masterclass is for you! This masterclass will help you develop your awareness to notice all the subtle and beautiful details around you so that you can walk through nature with renewed enthusiasm and confidence, experiencing the joy that comes from mindful connection.

In order to complete the field activities in this masterclass, you will need access to a safe space to use as a nature sit spot or a safe place to do a nature walk. You will also need a journal or workbook for your written exercises and reflections.

What is Nature Awareness?

In this section, we will explore why walking with mindful awareness is so important to growing your knowledge and deepening your connection to nature.

Nature awareness is the ability to open your heart and open your mind to notice all the wonderful things around you – and to be one with the wonderful world around you. It gives you space to breathe, find your calm, discover your inner balance and walk with peace and serenity.

Have you ever been on the road somewhere, or waiting around at a bus stop, and you suddenly realise – the time has simply disappeared and you have no idea how many things you have passed – or how many things have passed you? Imagine how much you could have missed – birdsong, wild flowers, sunbeams, rainbows or butterflies… Because you were lost inside yourself. Your awareness was directed inside of you.

Now, imagine you could walk through the world with your awareness open to the world. By mastering nature awareness, this whole magical world could be yours. The dancing butterflies, the sun-dappled leaves, the scents of wild roses and honeysuckle, the warm, gentle breeze. Instead of life passing you by, you would be a part of life – beautiful, vibrant and alive. With a smile on your lips and a skip in your step.

By walking with awareness, you turn everything around. Now, you become a part of the landscape you are traveling through. You become a part of Nature. By walking with awareness, you lift the walk from a mere walk into a magical experience. A walk accompanied by birdsong, brightened by butterflies and flowers, touched by sunbeams and raindrops. Wouldn’t this nature walk experience be so much more enjoyable and rewarding? This is the joy of nature awareness. Now let’s learn a little about its benefits.

What are the benefits of Nature Awareness?

We all know that spending time in nature is good for us and indeed, studies have shown that even as little as 20 minutes a day or 2 hours a week in nature has enormous physical, mental and emotional benefits. But, simply being in nature is not enough. To truely benefit from being in nature, we need to actually ‘be’ in nature. That is, fully aware of, in tune with and connected to her.

Being in nature brings with it a whole variety of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits. Walking in green spaces helps to soothe and calm, lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress responses. It reduces anxiety, helps in depression, boosts self-esteem and induces feelings of positivity and joy. Being surrounded by trees in woodlands or forests, actively reduces the stress hormone, cortisol; promotes secretion of the relaxation hormone, PSH and also enhances immunity. Even having access to images or scenes of nature can improve healing.

Aside from its health benefits, spending time in nature with awareness helps in other ways too. For those interested in growing their knowledge and deepening their nature connection, awareness provides a fantastic tool to achieve this. Because, as soon as you start spending time regularly connecting to and aware of the nature in an area, you will begin to recognise and identify individual species, their quirks, their changes and their personalities… and even individuals. This encourages you to get hands-on and interact with them on a much deeper level.

Imagine, you always see a fuzzy red flower, which is surrounded by bumble bees. They seem to love it! One day, you bend down to smell it and turn it over in your fingers. Its made up of lots of little flowers! And, its leaves are all in little bunches of three. Then you remember, clovers have three leaves. So, you go home and look it up. It is indeed a red clover – and indeed beloved by bees. Now, every time you think about this plant, you can immediately recall its smell, its texture, its colours and its identifying features. It has changed from a generic ‘flower’ and taken on a name and personality.

In fact, once you start living and walking with awareness, you automatically begin tuning in to the world around you. You start to notice patterns, changes, differences and similarities. You begin to learn the life-cycles, personalities, quirks and habits of the trees, plants and wildlife living around you. Consciously or subconsciously, you begin gathering knowledge about all these aspects of Nature. So, are you ready to start awakening your nature awareness?

Awakening Your Sense of Touch

The objective of nature awareness, is to start acclimatising your senses to notice the world around you and engage and interact with nature and one of the best ways to do that, is by awakening our sense of touch. Often, we think of vision as our most important nature awareness tool. Afterall, there is so much going on in Nature. It is beautiful, magical and awe-inspiring. But, for today, we are going to close our eyes and instead focus on our least-thought-about, but most important connection sense – the sense of touch.

Because, whether it is running our fingers over the bark of a tree, or sinking our toes into the warm sea sand, touch is important for us. Think about how a young child explore the world. They first and foremost use their sense of touch.

Your action steps

  • Relax and take a beautiful breath in, then out
  • Shrug and relax your shoulders and put on a beautiful smile
  • Close your eyes
  • Feel the air upon your skin

Your field work

Start by feeling the air surrounding you. Feel it hugging you, touching you, sweeping past or landing on you – the breezes, sunshine, snow or raindrops. Then move your attention to the ground beneath you feet. Feel its firmness, texture and bounce – earth, rocks, grass, moss, sand, mud or asphalt.

  • What can you feel?
  • How does it feel?
  • How does it make you feel?

Really pay attention to the sensations you experience, then note your thoughts and feelings down in your workbook.

Awakening your sense of smell

In our previous exercise, we practiced using our sense of touch and now, we will move on to awakening our sense of smell – yet another rarely-thought-about but very important sense. In fact, this sense comes as a two-in-one package, – both taste and smell together, because, we need our sense of smell to enhance our sense of taste. And, while we might not at first associated these two senses with Nature connection, there is definitely something satisfying about the smell of Nature. Just thinking about the smell of wild flowers, herbs, cut grass or rain-dampened earth immediately transports and makes you smile. See, it is true, isn’t it?

Your action steps

  • Relax and take a beautiful breath in, then out
  • Shrug and relax your shoulders and put on a beautiful smile
  • Close your eyes
  • Take a deep breath in
  • Slightly part your lips

Your field work

Feel the air inside your nose and rushing over your tongue – notice the air, the scents, the currents.

  • How does it smell?
  • How does it taste?
  • What does it make you think of and feel?

Really pay attention to the tastes and smells you experience. Then note your thoughts and feelings down in the workbook.

Awakening your sense of hearing

After waking up our senses of touch and smell, the purpose of today’s activity is to begin tuning in your ears to awaken your sense of hearing. Because, even in seemingly peaceful places, there is often much to hear – wind, water, trees, grasses, birds, insects and even animals. Of course, there are the sounds of human activity to listen to as well. (While you might wonder why listening out for people is importnat, they can tell you where trails or settlements or landmarks are, which help in wild wayfinding).

Your action steps

  • Begin by breathing a deep breath in and out
  • Shrug your shoulders
  • Smile!
  • Close your eyes again
  • Focus on your ears

Your field work

Listen to the sounds around you – near sounds and distant sounds in all the different direction. Wake up your sense of hearing. Listen for all the natural elements. Listen to sounds in the air and in the earth, up in the trees (and the trees themselves). Also, listen for sounds which are close by, those which are far away, and those which seem to be moving (towards or away).

  • What can you hear?
  • Can you identify everything you hear?
  • Try to identify the source and location of each sound.
  • How do they make you feel?

Really pay attention to everything you hear. Then, note your feelings down in the workbook.

Awakening your sense of sight

So, we have practiced waking up our touch, smell and hearing and now it is time to start awakening our sense of sight and tuning our eyes to notice the subtleties and movements of Nature. Because often, even though we think we are walking around with our eyes open, but once we start mastering nature awareness and really begin to pay attention, we realise just how much we gloss over and how much we do not see.

Your action steps

  • Start by taking a big breath in and out
  • Shrug and roll your shoulders
  • Smile a beautiful smile
  • This time, keep your eyes wide open

Your field work

Look carefully around you – up, down and all around. Notice movement, colours, the play of sunlight and shadows, the way colours merge into one another or the way they are demarcated. Notice the large things and the little things, the overall picture and the tiniest details.

  • What do you notice?
  • What can you see?
  • How are things moving – and why are they moving?
  • How does observing nature make you feel?

Really pay attention to your environment. Then, reflect on your feelings in the workbook.

Tuning In To Trees

The purpose of this section is to begin focusing your attention onto and noticing trees. Because, trees are much more than ‘green blobs on sticks!’ In fact, they are an entire world more than that – literally. Each tree will have its own network of insects, birds, animals, fungi, lichens, moss and other forms of life both supporting it and dependent upon it – without which, neither they nor it would survive.

Your action steps

  • Begin by warming up your senses – shrug, relax and smile
  • Feel, smell, listen and look around you
  • Find a tree, then stand back and observe it
  • Move in closer and notice its details

Your field work

Look carefully at the tree – up and down and all around. Pay attention to its shapes, colours, textures, sounds and smells.

  • What do you notice?
  • Does it make any sound?
  • How does the bark feel?
  • Does the have a particular smell?

Really pay attention to all the little details. Then, reflect on your feelings in the workbook.

Tuning In To Plants

The purpose of this activity is to begin focusing your attention onto and noticing plants. Because, we are surrounded daily by so many plants – wild plants, planted plants, showy plants, inconspicuous plants… wherever you look, you are sure to find some. So, it is nice to start tuning in and actually get to know them.

Your action steps

  • Begin by warming up your senses – shrug, relax and smile
  • Feel, smell, listen and look around you
  • Find a plant, then stand back and observe it
  • Then, move in closer and notice its details

Your field work

Look carefully at the plant – its size, shape colour, personality and health. Smell its flowers and notice its little details. Gently touch its petals, its leaves and its stalk.

  • What can you notice?
  • What impression does it give you?
  • Does it look healthy?
  • How does observing this plant make you feel?

Really pay attention to and think about what you can smell, see and feel. Then, reflect on your feelings in the workbook.

Tuning In To Birds

The purpose of this activity is to begin focusing your attention onto and noticing birds. Whether they are seagulls, blackbirds, jackdaws, sparrows or crows, there are many birds of all shapes and sizes gracing our parks, countrysides, waterways and skies. So, why not start to meet them.

Your action steps

  • Begin by warming up your senses – shrug, relax and smile
  • Feel, smell, listen and look around you
  • Then start tuning in your eyes and ears to notice your local birds

Your field work

Look and listen carefully all around you.

  • Can you hear any birds?
  • Can you see any birds?
  • What are they doing?

Really pay attention to your surroundings – in the trees, on rooftops, in gardens, on ponds or rivers. Then, reflect on your thoughts and findings in the workbook.

Tuning In To Insects

The purpose of this activity is to begin focusing on and paying attention to the world of insects and bugs around you. Because, whether they are spiders, butterflies, moths, worms, slugs, flies or ladybirds, there are millions of insects of all shapes and sizes living around and beside us.

Your action steps

  • Begin by warming up your senses – shrug, relax and smile
  • Feel, smell, listen and look around you
  • Then start tuning in your eyes and ears to notice any insects

Your field work

Look carefully around you – up, down and all around. Notice their movements, sounds, activities and colours.

  • Can you see any insects?
  • Can you hear any insects?
  • What are they doing?

Really pay attention to the air above you, on the ground below your feet, along the plants or tree line. Then, reflect on your thoughts and findings in the workbook.

Well… I truly hope you have enjoyed this masterclass and feel confident in your ability to go out and begin mastering your nature awareness. Remember, once you start opening your senses and mastering nature awareness, you will soon discover a whole new, magical, wonderful world, which once you step into, you can never step back. So get out there and enjoy it x

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