ways to appreciate nature's uniqueness

8 Ways to Mindfully Appreciate Nature’s Uniqueness

Steve Russell - February 19, 2023

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Modern people spend far too much time indoors. Long workdays and hectic schedules deprive many people of enjoying nature’s wonder and uniqueness, and the effects show in their health outcomes. Multiple studies have confirmed the benefits of spending time outdoors, from boosting your immunity to easing depression. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve immersed yourself in the great outdoors, you might be unsure where to start your adventures. Here are eight ways to mindfully appreciate nature’s uniqueness. 

1. Take a Mindful Hike 

Hiking is perhaps the best way to reap the benefits of the great outdoors. You get your heart pumping and blast your quads and hamstrings, helping you meet your exercise quotient — although you probably won’t notice breaking a sweat. You’ll be too busy appreciating nature’s uniqueness as you soak in the glorious vista. 

How can you make your hike more mindful? Tune into how you feel, activating each sense in turn. For example, you might spend five minutes observing your heartbeat as you tackle a steep slope. Then, get your nose in the game — how many distinct aromas can you differentiate? Do you know what causes them? Stop and smell the roses or wildflowers. 

How would you describe the palette you see before you if you were an artist? Fall hikes see woodlands erupt in a cacophony of gold and orange. What can you hear as you mindfully tune into the sound of silence, far from the hum of electronics and the buzz of passing cars? 

2. Enjoy a Picnic in the Park 

You may have heard of the mindfulness activity where you take your time savoring a piece of chocolate. Taste is one sense to keep you in the here and now, and those receptors on your tongue come alive in the great outdoors. Why else do you think barbecues are a perennial favorite? 

Pack a picnic that would make Yogi Bear envious and head to the local park. If you can find one, go all out, including the red-checked blanket. Take your time savoring your meal as you make cloud animals, smile at the laughter of children playing nearby and observe butterflies landing on nearby clover. 

3. Stargaze 

When was the last time you gazed up in perfect silence at the stars, marveling at your place in the universe? If you can find a location far from the usual urban light pollution, nature will award your trek with a celestial canvas only she could design. Counting the number of tiny lights is impossible, and you can sit for hours wondering at all the incredible worlds that may circle them. 

Stargazing helps you appreciate nature’s uniqueness by reminding you how small you are in the greater scheme of things. All of planet earth is but a speck in a vast ocean of uncharted territory. What unknown eyes might be looking skyward from their otherworldly abodes, likewise wondering if there are other intelligent beings out there? 

4. Observe Ants as They Work 

Gazing at the stars makes you realize how big you are, but great wisdom also exists in the tiniest creatures. Perhaps you spent a mindful hour or two observing ants at their work as a child or created a miniature farm or habitat for these insect friends. If not, there’s no reason why you can’t discover the practice as an adult — or rediscover your youth. 

Humans often think they have the catbird seat when it comes to nature’s uniqueness. They pride themselves on their industry and cleverness. However, a careful inspection of our insect cousins sees them carrying out similar tasks with the efficiency of a well-trained line crew under the eye of a competent foreman. Watching them cooperate to carry a worm back to their nest to feed their queen and her offspring is fascinating. 

5. Practice Yoga Outdoors 

Yoga is the ultimate mindfulness movement practice. By coordinating breath and bodywork, you can cultivate inner peace while benefiting your mental and physical health. 

However, you can amplify the health benefits by taking your practice outdoors, especially in woodland areas. Researchers investigated the effects of forest bathing on human immunity and found that it increased the number and activity of natural killer cells. The secret lies in phytoncides, chemicals plants emit — so inhale deeply and say “aah.” 

6. Kick Off Your Shoes 

Have you heard of grounding? This practice consists of walking barefoot on the earth. Why? Doing so connects you with the earth’s electromagnetic field, helping you absorb beneficial ions through your soles — or so aficionados report. 

How do you practice it? All you have to do is find a grassy spot, kick off your shoes and walk around barefoot. If you want a deeper effect, try lying down directly on the earth. 

7. Build a Birdhouse 

Our avian friends have as much to teach us as ants. When you think of their connection with dinosaurs, you understand they must have ancient wisdom beneath their wings. 

You can mindfully appreciate nature’s uniqueness even when the winter winds blow if you build a birdhouse. Hang it on a tree limb where you can see it from a window and enjoy watching your family of feathered friends bed down against the cold. 

8. Go Solo Camping

Camping is a glorious way to appreciate nature’s uniqueness, but doing it solo builds a deeper connection. There’s something about standing alone amid the wild that helps you sense your kinship with the planet. 

Please follow proper safety precautions before taking off on your trek. You should:

  • Leave a flight plan: Let someone know your camp GPS coordinates and when you plan to leave and return.
  • Take communication: Ensure you have a cellular signal where you are. If you go out of range, consider a satellite device — you can find alert systems for less than $200 that are well worth it for the ability to send an emergency SOS when alone in the wild. 
  • Carry plenty of essentials: Water is vital. Take a ready supply and purification tablets or a straw. You’ll also need a first aid kit, high-energy snacks, clean socks and underwear, sunscreen, insect repellent and plenty of protection against the cold if you plan to tent or hammock camp. 

How to Mindfully Appreciate Nature’s Uniqueness 

Modern life has taken humans too far away from the natural world. The results show in poorer health outcomes. 

You can improve your mental, physical and spiritual health by getting out in the great outdoors. Follow the tips above to mindfully appreciate nature’s uniqueness and reconnect with what it means to be human. 

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About the author

Steve Russell

Steve is the Managing Editor of Environment.co and regularly contributes articles related to wildlife, biodiversity, and recycling. His passions include wildlife photography and bird watching.