This year, the value of the natural world has perhaps become more noticeable than ever. As so many aspects of our lives were forced to come to a standstill, the natural world remained open to us. Local green spaces which had perhaps ben underused or gone somewhat unnoticed, became a much-needed space for individuals to reflect and re-energise. As we reconnected with the natural environment and sought refuge in it, we also reaped the benefits that it had to offer.
With the approaching festive season, we invite you to consider ways in which you might show your gratitude to the natural world for the value and support which it has provided. From large gestures, such as volunteering with local organisations and planting trees, to quiet personal reflections and creating artworks, there are a variety of individual and personalised ways in which we can thank Nature for all it has to offer.
In the first of our two-part ‘Showing Gratitude to Nature’ blog, we invite you to consider and explore ways in which you and your family can meaningfully engage with the outdoors, whilst simultaneously showing your gratitude.
Give Private Thanks to The Natural World
Showing your gratitude to the natural world doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, arduous or expensive task. Instead, you can simply incorporate this into one of your regular walks. Set aside some dedicated time to thank nature on your next walk. It can be especially engaging to do this on a walk to a natural reserve or green space which is of particular significance to you.
Take some time to pause during your walk. Allow yourself the time and space to be silent and simply observe the natural world around you. Open your senses to all that the space has to offer and take a moment to engage in meaningful reflection, meditation or other mindful practice. At the end of your reflection, offer the space your thanks and gratitude. You may choose to do this out loud, or silently to yourself.
Take A Family Gratitude Walk
Instead of taking a gratitude walk alone (or in addition to one), involve your family. Take a family gratitude walk to your local nature reserve. Dedicate the walk to simply observing the natural world around you, taking the time to fully appreciate it. You could discuss the things you notice throughout your walk or instead, walk silently together and share your observations at the end. You could even take a moment to pause in your favourite space within the local nature reserve and take turns thanking the space or sharing your favourite features or aspects of the natural world around you.
Show Gratitude Through Creative Expression
Another fantastic way to show your gratitude to Nature is through creative work. This can take any form which is most reflective of your thoughts and emotions. You may decide to write a letter to Nature which you then read aloud on your next outdoor walk. Alternatively, you could write a poem. This could be a really enjoyable activity to share with your family, even writing a poem together.
If you are musical, you might choose instead to compose a piece of music for the natural setting. You could record the sounds of the natural environment and then rearrange them into a composition or create a soundscape. Alternatively, you could create music on site using found, natural materials.
Artists may prefer to create a work of art in response to a local nature reserve or to capture its essence in a landscape painting. You could also create an artwork using found, natural objects.
On the other hand, you might find that you prefer to take some time to respond physically to a site by creating a piece of choreography or movement as a gesture of thanks and gratitude. You could even engage in some embodied practice outdoors, whilst dedicating your session and practice to the natural environment.
Make Eco-Friendly Ornaments
With the festive season fast approaching, you could show your gratitude to the natural world by making your own eco-friendly, sustainable ornaments instead of buying new ones. This can be a really wonderful activity to do with your family, especially if you have young children. Create home-made baubles and make Christmas tree decorations out of salt dough or using papercrafts.
You could also source sustainable materials and use these to create your own decorations, including making your own Christmas wreath or table decorations. You could even offer these homemade creations as gifts over the festive period.
Create an Eco-Friendly Object for Your Garden
Perhaps you are particularly skilled at making objects, in which case, why not make one using eco-friendly materials? For instance, you could use natural materials to construct a swing for your garden or make a natural bench or stool, which you could place outside your home as a space to pause and reflect. You could create a bird box, make a bin out of natural materials or even create an eco-friendly hanging basket.
This week, we invite you to consider how you might celebrate and thank the natural world. You may choose to show your gratitude privately and individually or instead, involve your family and turn this opportunity into a family project and the chance to spend some quality time together. Most importantly, we encourage you to find your own unique way to express your thanks to the natural world.
Whether you are inspired by one of the suggestions above or have an alternative idea, we would really enjoy hearing from you. Share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Shared Thoughts forum or on our Facebook page.