Pausing for deep nature breaks
Summer is in full swing and I’ve enjoyed some quiet time in the mountains, rivers and the ocean.
But for the past month I have not nature journaled as much as I normally do. I’m not sure why I’m not recording things in my journal, but I’m giving myself permission to be okay it. And I’m focusing on noticing nature, being present, and feeling wonder, awe and gratitude. I can truly take in the specialness of the moment.
I’ve really needed to pause the stream of information and technology that overloads me, slow down the analytical thinking mind and reset my nervous system with more time connecting to nature.
Time to immerse myself in nature, to sit and just BE.
But at first it was awkward to just BE—its easy to keep busy and to be in my head. I felt like a child riding a bike with training wheels- wobbling back and forth between “rest” and “busy”. I had forgotten what it was like to slow to nature’s pace, and feel the groundedness that only nature can bring me.
In the ‘warm-up’ phase, I didn’t know what to DO. I am often filling up pages in my nature journal, but recently have been feeling a desire to want to stop the constant doing and just sit and take in nature.
It’s hard to break the pattern of overworking and constant busyness, and the emphasis on producing rather than experiencing.
So, I kept reminding myself that I’m here to enjoy myself, and stop the non-stop doing. Refrain from collecting “data” for now.
I could choose to slow down to nature’s pace– to stop, take a breath, take a moment to look around and use my senses. Nature time always gives me clarity in my thinking, replenishes my spirit and give my mind and body the rest it needs.
What came to me during these outings was to use my nature journal in a different way. To experiment with playful ways to capture nature’s voices on the page. Not to use my analytical mind, but to tap into open-hearted, creative, and intuitive side.
Some ways I’ve experimented this month:
Collage of contours
As I sat on the river bank, listening to the song of the trees–winds rustling the willow and poplar leaves–my eye caught the beautiful shapes of the leaves, and roots of the willows in the water.
I pulled up a root and noticed the branching pattern, and loved the way the rootlets came out of the main root. Pulling out my journal I decided to so a loose contour drawing- releasing the need to ‘get it right’ on the page, but mindfully following the contours of the roots, while my hand and pen slowly moved across the page.
I let my eyes wander over the plants and water until it stopped on some leaves- and placed willow leaf contours on the page, not worrying about where i drew them, and focusing on how calming this felt. After the page was filled I felt so peaceful, and happy.
Do some contour drawings of what you see, without getting caught up in over-analyzing, head-based thinking. You can still wonder and be curious, but allow yourself to slow and be here in nature.
Play with nature: River Painting
Be playful and creative. I wet the paper by scooping water from the river and patted my page. Then dipped my waterbrush into various colors that jumped out at me, and let my brush touch the wet page and watched the paint bleed. I kept adding other colors and enjoyed swirled them on the page, and watched the colors dance and blend together.
NOTE: To avoid adding paint to the river, I didn’t dip my brush into the river. I used my hand to collect water and put it directly on my page. Then, I squeezed the waterbrush pen to wet the paint and apply to page, using a rag to wipe extra paint off.
Painting with nature: tools
You could do this with dipping sticks or leaves into your paint and painting with them. Noticing each item as you hold it and as you co-create something on the page with it. Close your eyes, and open your eyes to look at your color palette and choose the first color you see.
Take a pause from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and see what nature is trying to tell you. Sit and listen. Touch the ground, the water, the sky, and notice what stirs your heart?
5 thoughts on “Pausing for deep nature breaks”
I love this post, Melinda!!! Oddly, it is a relief to know that even you sometimes have to battle to stay present and focused, and that sometimes you don’t feel like journaling….and that it’s OK. I enjoy the Museum classes so much and I will try and tune in to your next Monterey class if I am available. Be well, and thank you. Kari
Thanks Kari- It was exactly my intention– to share openly. Sometimes we show only our good side or good artwork, which can send a message that we are always that way. But, we are human, and of nature, and nature have cycles and rhythms- doesn’t it make sense that we too would have ebbs and flows?
I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Museum sessions–ts always so nice to see you in person. : )
Hi Melinda, I couldn’t help but smile at your image of the River Painting. It’s expressing so much joy (from you….. and also the river?)
Rebecca- Oh, that’s lovely– that River might be happy about creating together!
Nature Journaling has made me so much more of my surroundings even though I do not always have the time to document what I have noticed.
Recently I have felt joy as I noticed four or five Rainbow Lorikeets feeding on the berries in the tree next door. A peaceful moment.