Engaging Your Senses In Nature
In this article we will consider how to begin engaging our senses to help us tune in to and connect with the natural world – and the man-made world, in a conscious and mindful manner. A way that helps us to feel a part of and one with our surroundings and to notice the beauty and wonder of nature.
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. We have five wonderful senseswhich can helps is tune in to our surroundings. But one of the best ways to begin awakening our senses to notice the world, is by using 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, I think the most important of our senses to apply when we practice mindfulness in nature, is 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.
So, when you are out and about in nature, close your eyes and feel instead. Feel the wind, the sun, the raindrops, the temperature of the air. Feel the grass, stones and gravel beneath your feet, or the plants, trees, grasses and mosses growing around you. Really pay attention to the sensations, the textures, the temperatures – and how they make you feel.
Using your senses of taste and smell
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 associate 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?
So when you are out and about, practice using your sense of smell. Smell and taste the wind and the air, the scents and perfumes carried on the currents. Notice the smells of damp moss and running water or the salty breeze. Savour the tastes and smells of mint, pine and cut grass. Enjoy the smell of flowers and wild berries.
Your sense of hearing in nature
After waking up our senses of touch and smell it is time to begin tuning 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 important, they can tell you where trails or settlements or landmarks are, which helps in wild wayfinding).
So pay attention to all the little and large sounds, where they are, who they are and what they are doing. For example, notice the sounds of the wind as it journeys towards you through the trees. Listen to the roll and crash of the ripples and waves.
Hear the birds singing – what do they say? Why are they singing? Are they in conversation with other birds? Listen to the hum and buzz of the insects. Notice the sounds of the animals – what are they doing? Why emotions or messages are they conveying? Really tune in and pay attention.
Honing 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.
Start by taking a big breath in and out, then shrug and roll your shoulders to help you relax; smile a beautiful smile and this time, keep your eyes wide open.
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 the thoughts, feelings, mesages and emotions they envoke.
Now it is your turn!
What do you think about this exercise? Do you practice any of these activities when you are out and about in nature? Why not share in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings about them. And don’t forget to subscribe by clicking the pink betton below to be notified about new blog posts, quizzes and tutorials x
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