Nature Practice

Practice of the Week
Nature Practice


When I’ve asked Unitarians what their spiritual practice is, answers are all over the place. One of the more common answers is Walking in the Woods.

Connecting to nature is indeed a vital spirituality. Spirituality is about being a part of something bigger than yourself – the context of belonging that imparts meaning to life. Earth and sky, mountains and waters, trees and animals – and all their complex interrelationships – fits the bill.

Nature Practice can be just what we need, as Dr. Winfield Sedhoff explains:
Modern living is tough. There’s just too much to do! Too many people to please, too many tasks to complete, and too many fears and disappointments to deal with. It can be exhausting, frustrating, and soul-destroying all at once, and that can be on a good day!
Along the way, all too easily, we can lose our sense of self – who am I when I’m not a parent, a friend, or a worker? Do I have any idea anymore? When it all gets on top of us, when we no longer recognise, or like, the person in the mirror, this is when we need a way to rejuvenate from within.
Increasing our spiritual connection with nature, as our ancient tribal ancestors did, can be the vital tonic we need. (Sedhoff)
Here are some entry-level nature spiritual practice that anyone can do.

Sit for 5 minutes (or longer) each morning (or evening) and look at whatever you can see from the best window in your home. Use patio, deck, or sun porch in good weather. Be still. Notice what you might not have seen before. Be curious like a child. Be grateful. Take a deep breath and say thank you before continuing with your day. Add a reading from Wisdom literature on days when you have time.

Go on a short walk in your yard or neighborhood. Appreciate each sign of life and beauty. Stop and look closely at small things. Notice details of color and shape. Be amazed at the intricate web of life in which we live and move and have our being.

When you drive to work or on an errand, don’t turn on the radio. While still driving safely, notice trees, grass, flowers, sky, wind, sun, birds, maybe crops, or rain, squirrels and any other animals. Feel blessed by all of these, because you are.

Take mini-vacations during the work day. Stop and listen, look out a window for a few minutes. Break-through, creative thoughts sometimes come in such moments of reverie or relaxed reflection.

Take a walk during a break or lunch hour. Go outside if possible and let creation bless eyes, ears, body. Give up thinking and worrying for a moment. Sense the vibrancy in all that surrounds you. Fill your lungs with fresh air. Move. Be glad to be alive in, and part of, amazing creation.

Create connections with nature in your work space. Keep plants, flowers, unique stones, fish, or a small fountain in your home or office. Play nature sound music while you work.

Use imagery to connect with nature. Take a mini-vacation in your mind by using imagination. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and calmly. Imagine the most beautiful, peaceful, sacred place you have ever seen or visited. Be there! Have a virtual reality experience that allows you to see, feel, taste, smell, and hear this place as if you were actually there. Be thankful for all such places that we carry within us because we have been gifted with such extravagant life and loveliness.

If you have a special place in nature that you can visit during the week, go there and do nothing but look, listen, and feel. Attend to what feels sacred or holy in the details and realities of this place. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving as you prepare to leave.

Sing! When we take time to notice the glory of the created world we are often moved to joy. Express your praise by singing a favorite hymn or chorus.

Speak your thoughts throughout the day with mental or verbal words/phrases. A simple “Wow!” as you see a gorgeous sunset or “Earth, you do nice work,” as you spy an incredibly colorful tree can serve to heighten our gratitude and wonder.

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