Staying open to simple pleasures offers opportunity for rejuvenation.
Nature can hold us during Dark times, and she will also be there when we are ready to rediscover Light. She allows us the opportunity to reconnect with our inner desires, to move in and out of connection with others, to stay aware of the present moment, and to explore our relationship to the environment. If we can accept her gifts, we will rediscover our joy and return to our daily lives rejuvenated.
Here are a few rejuvenation ideas from my trip to Great River Bluffs in Winona, MN:
What simple pleasures rejuvenate you?
Nature provides a nurturing space for processing grief.
Having a nurturing space can provide support and comfort when processing difficult emotions. Spending time in nature has helped me connect with my own grief, which has allowed for deeper connections with myself, my friends and family, and my purpose. It's helped me integrate multiple tragedies into my life story while maintaining mental health.
The following questions came to me while photographing Rice Lake State Park in Owatonna, MN. They have helped me begin to write a new narrative while navigating trauma. If you find yourself processing difficult emotions, try asking yourself:
Where do you go when you need to feel supported?
To be human is to create.
When children, creative play comes naturally: we paint, draw, pretend, sing, dance, act, play. But, for many of us, we slowly grow away from that creativity. That separation begins when we start comparing ourselves to those around us. We find evidence that "proves" we aren't good enough or that creativity isn't our thing or that there's just not enough time to have a creative practice.
Maybe someone stifled your creativity because of their own insecurities. Maybe it got broken by the system of education that values logical and rational thinking. Maybe your creativity drifted off quietly as you focused on "adulting." Maybe your creativity has been hidden because you're afraid of being vulnerable.
In order to recover our creative health, we need to redefine what it means to be creative. In Brené Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection, she defines creativity as a means of expressing our originality and making connections. Her research on shame shows creativity is vital for living lovingly.
No matter the reasons for our stifled creativity and no matter how we define creativity, here's the reality: we are creative beings. Every single one of us. Let's look at how we can reframe our artistic shame and recover our creative voices.
We are all here on this planet making a life, making meaning out of our experiences, and making connections. We can be more creative and more intentional about what we create by cultivating our artistic voice.
How do you express your creativity?
Nature-based art supports a mindful life.
Over the years, I have tried multiple forms of meditation, but the one practice that has been the most consistent is mindfulness through nature photography. When I go into nature, I am fully alive, energized, and in-tune with the world.
Mindfulness and meditation are intended to help us fully drop into our lives. When we practice mindfulness, there are very real benefits:
Don't feel you need equipment, clothes, apps, and/or a "guru" to guide you. In fact, if you're spending a lot of money on meditation, you are likely contributing to cultural appropriation since meditation is an Eastern concept that Westerners have co-opted to fit our consumer culture. It's not that Eastern forms of meditation can't be beneficial to Westerners, but be conscious of the impact. Be aware of who is benefiting and at what cost. If you feel you need more information, search "cultural appropriation" and, specifically, "cultural appropriation in the field of wellness."
If you become aware that you are causing or have caused harm, it's not too late to turn it around! Quit the practice, confront your privilege, clarify your intentions, make amends, and do better moving forward.
Since the terms mindfulness and meditation are abstract concepts, here are a few ways one might describe the experience.
Nature-based art is a wonderful tool in helping us to simply secure our connection to a meaningful, healthy life. Bringing nature-based art into our homes, offices, and social media spaces, we can receive the benefits of a mindfulness practice as we go about our day-to-day lives.
Here are three ideas for beginning a nature-based art mindfulness practice:
Mindfulness is a practice; it becomes easier and more beneficial over time. Nature imagery can make your mindfulness practice simple, accessible, and stress-free. Look around your house for a piece of nature-based art and display it for a reminder.
Also, remember that mindfulness is a self-care practice to help you stay grounded and focused so that you can take action toward creating a better world - it is not meant to be a consumer product and it is not meant to stand separate from compassionate action. Keep it simple, get centered, and then use that divine Love to fuel the fight for freedom, equity, justice, and peace.
How have you used art + nature to stay mindful?
Kristin Perry is a nature photographer navigating life's complexities by focusing on beauty.