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Wonder wandering – 4 fun ways to reconnect with nature

By THE MINDFUL MUM IN Discover

Have you ever taken the time to follow a butterfly as it goes about its business? Or when was the last time you intentionally got lost in the woods?

For most people, the answer is never.

The unsettling truth is that we have been disconnected from our surroundings for far too long. It will come as no surprise to most people that our children are being raised looking at their world from behind a screen.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, describes our future generations as suffering from what he terms, ‘nature-deficit disorder.’ He sees the staggering divide between children and the outdoors in the lives of today’s wired generation as being linked to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

So what can we do to help bridge the divide between our children, ourselves and nature?

Here are some fun activities to try:

Toddler Wandering

Watch a toddler wander through the garden, wondering about their world. Watch how they engage all five of their senses as they touch the bark of a tree, smell the jasmine, taste a sun-kissed strawberry, watch a bird build its nest, and hear the wind rustle the leaves. As children, we are born with an innate sense of wonder, yet somewhere along the line, our wonder subsides and our vision narrows. Our surroundings become ordinary and we begin to see past those things that once stirred our imagination.  

Human Camera

Leave your smart-phone behind for this one and grab your partner, friend or child. Then close, blindfold or place your hands over your eyes. You are now a human camera, able to capture pictures with all your senses. Your partner acts as the photographer leading you through the environment and stopping you when they have chosen the picture they want to take. Your partner simply taps your head to turn on the camera. The human camera engages all their senses for 5-10 seconds and then places the blindfold back on their eyes and is led back to the starting point. Finish by having a chat about what images the human camera took in, engaging all five of their senses.

Live Streaming

Rivers, creeks, and streams are incredibly dynamic environments hosting a myriad of plant and animal life. Find a waterway near you and wander along its banks paying close attention to the ways in which it supports a broad spectrum of living things. Go down to the water’s edge, be still, and listen to the audible spectrum running water makes as it finds its way through the rocks. If you’re game, carefully rock-hop your way upstream and see what you discover.

Plant Whisperer

The next time you get a peaceful couple of minutes in nature, (after you’ve taken your selfie to prove that you were really there!), try and actually interact with your scene. Seek out a plant, tree, or rock, sit down with it and have a little chat. We know it sounds a little weird, but trust us, it can be quite profound. Ask your object questions about its origin, its family, how it interacts with its neighbours and other animals. Observe its place in the landscape and try to understand how well adapted it is to its environment. Then stop and ask yourself the same questions about yourself in that particular scene and/or  your normal environment. You might just see this is not such a strange exercise after all!

As parents we are given an extraordinary second chance to re-engage our senses, reconnect with our environment, and foster a sense of wonder in our children. Nature also provides a perfect medium to both practice mindfulness for ourselves and introduce mindfulness to our children. So get out there with your children and plant a garden, go for a hike, or simply sit on the river’s edge and wonder. Let’s all aim for more GREEN TIME and less ‘screen time’.

THE MINDFUL MUM

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