A 10-minute backyard nature practice you'll love

"Study nature, love nature, and stay close to nature, it will never fail you." -Frank Lloyd Wright

I used to think that I had to take a vacation and travel great distances to experience the beauty and benefits of nature. Visiting a national park or some other type of natural area seemed like the only way.

It was a big misconception on my part.

One day I realized the wonders of nature could be found in my own backyard or a nearby park. I learned that spending little more than 10-minutes outside on a regular basis was highly satisfying.

By making the time and space for a regular, what I like to call Nature Practice, I have gained greater insight into my life and it has helped me become more curious and interested in my everyday world. 

You can build and sustain your own year-round nature practice with these easy tips and guidelines.

To get you out the door and past your complacency, think of it as a little self-indulgence. Maybe not a spa-day, but definitely a take-care-of-yourself experience that is worth every minute.

Make this as special and comforting as you want. If you are going to practice in your backyard, find an old second-hand comfy outdoor chair and grab a blanket for warmth, if needed. (Early morning is so nice.) In a park, many benches are placed near lush greenery and interesting gardens. Bring some hot tea for sipping and/or keep a notebook handy for new knowledge and fleeting insights that might come up.

It helps to approach this practice with an attitude of discovery and feelings of gratitude and joy. Or, stick with it and these will grow on their own after awhile. Ten minutes is all you need, longer if you can. Follow these easy guidelines and try for two to three times a week to start.   

  • Find a place to sit in your backyard near a tree or some plants. Nearby greenbelts, parks and community gardens work well, too. Wherever, make it easy to access.

  • Settle in and relax by taking a few deep breaths.

  • Let your thoughts drift on by like clouds. No judgment, just notice them and let them go.

  • Use your senses to discover something about your surroundings. You'll be amazed at the unique details of the natural world.

  • Feel the solidness of the earth beneath your feet or the giant evergreen supporting your back.

  • Look around and notice what you see. Maybe it's the gorgeous leaf litter covering the ground under your feet or the white butterfly flitting around. It could be the bright red berry clusters hanging from a branch or the city squirrel ransacking your bird feeder. Be sure to look up, too.

  • Listen for sounds of birds and insects even if you can't see them. If you hear traffic, think of it as white noise.

  • Feel the texture of a prickly pine cone or softness of a flower petal. Marvel at their strength and beauty.

  • Smell the earth. I mean get your nose down there and smell. It has a heady perfume all its own.

  • Just be and observe.

  • End by thanking yourself for this gift of time.

That's all you need do and soon you'll find yourself rooted in a very personal sense of place and space no matter where you are.

What about you? Do you have some suggestions to add to this practice? Or, do you have your own way of connecting with nature?

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