Everyone has their own connection with nature and the natural world around them.
Maybe yours is an urban nature experience or a rural one.
Maybe it is one where it rains a lot or one that has lots of pets or animals in it. Whatever it is , it will be individual to you. So your connection to nature and the natural world will be individual and personal too.
Me and My world – making my connection to nature
In building our connection to nature it’s important to recognise what our experience of the natural world consists of. There is little point me suggesting to go pick up shells on the beach if you live 100 miles from the ocean. That suggestion needs adapting to suit your environment. What other natural objects can you collect?
We have already discussed the elements that make a true connection to nature in “Adjusting my nature settings“. Like a connection with a true friend, what comprises both these relationships is remarkably similar. Once those bonds have had a chance to form strong roots it becomes a very personal interaction. It is between me and my world.
It is one that is built slowly and grows over time. And it is about a sensorial experience of the natural world. Sensory experiences work on the being of a person, sometimes you can’t put it into words. Its a feeling that evokes an emotion.
Do you ever come across those scents that take you back to a very specific experience? the woods after the rain always does it for me, and the warm early spring mornings when you can smell everything coming to life.
I think more than anything it is the sensorial experience we all have with the natural environment around us. The simple things that happen as we go about our daily lives.
(dates refer to The 365 Nature Journal)
- seeing our breath in the air (feb 11)
- walking barefoot (July 8)
- spotting the blossom on the tree from the window of the car (mar 9)
- wild swimming or paddling (oct 3)
In the 365 Nature Journal there are many days which have simple instructions that encourage a sensory experience of the natural world.
- smell the summer air (July 20)
- feel the cool wind on your arms (Oct 11).
- hug a tree (Feb 14)
- sniff elderflower (may 31)
Some people may think these are flippant space fillers. Far from it. It is these small interactions that build our personal relationship to our natural world around us. As we have seen in what it takes to build a nature connection, it is these repeated experiences that have formed my connection to nature. Returning each year to collect chestnuts or wonder at the bird who feasts every day on the food you have laid out for him.
This is Me and my World. This is my connection to nature.
To smell it ; To touch it; to hear it. And to miss those things when they don’t happen.
It may be slightly thrilling or scary “ooo the waves are so big!’ This all adds to the heightened feelings. But I bet those are the experiences that will stick in memories, when it was thrilling and felt on the edge of risk. Or maybe they are things that you just wouldn’t ordinarily do. Parents and carers may need to slightly let go too!
- a walk in the dark to see the night sky (Feb13)
- wash your face in the morning dew (May 3)
- taste the rainwater (Mar 3)
the 365 Nature Journal gently encourages these interactions with the world on a personal basis. The use of the senses puts it very much as an all round experience and not just one of ticking the boxes.
Observation skills are something that The Smart Happy Project takes very seriously. Learning to see what is around you and not just let it pass you by. By contemporary standards this could be seen as a subversive act. Observing our natural world is a sensory experience too. A little encouragement to spot these things as we pass them every day goes a long way to growing that connection to nature.
- can you see buds forming? (Mar 6)
- how many insects under one leaf? (april 14)
Part of observation is also taking time to reflect. And spending time in nature is often the best place to encourage stillness and reflection.
- lie in long grass and listen (Aug 11)
- take a walk in the silence of winter (Dec 29)
- find a personal nature spot (may 12)
What also we must not forget is to make it a celebration. Being with nature can make you sing or want to be active. This is something to revel in and not to be suppressed.
- swing from a tree (Apr 1)
- dance in the rain (Aug 29)
- long bike ride (Aug 14)
However you do it and however you get them to do it. It will be worth it.