Tips by Brianne Dela Cruz
In a busy society, many of us are looking for ways to slow down, spend more time outdoors, and find joy in small moments. These ten ideas give us options and teach us how to connect with nature in a more meaningful way.
Celebrate the Solstices and Equinox Days
These four milestones of the solar calendar mark the transition from one season to the next. The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, while the winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night. The spring and fall equinoxes mark the midway points between each solstice when day and night are equal around the globe. Regardless of our location or climate, we all experience this celestial cycle. These natural milestones offer an opportunity to connect deeper to the land by tuning into the changing of seasons. They are moments through a seasonal year in which to celebrate the joys in nature and tradition brought about by a new season.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice
Celebrate the Spring Equinox
Celebrate the Summer Solstice
Celebrate the Autumn Equinox
Track the Stars and Phases of the Moon
An ancient way to connect to the cycles of nature is to track the lunar phases and astrological alignments of our solar system. Knowing these celestial cycles and planetary arrangements connects us to the universe beyond our earth. It's a unique way of viewing ourselves as part of a greater whole. For some, simply gazing at and naming constellations is a great way to slow down and connect to nature. For others, the undulating lunar phases offer moments to reconnect, much like the seasonal phases of the solar calendar.
Connecting with the Lunar Cycles
Host a Full Moon Bonfire Gathering
Gathering with loved ones around a fire on the full moon is a beautiful way to connect and celebrate the cycles of nature. The energy in nature for each lunar cycle peaks at the full moon. It’s a great time to gather with community, celebrate the highlights of the month, and embrace what’s happening at that moment in nature before turning inward as the lunar energy wanes.
Seeking out and observing wildlife is another way to infuse nature’s cycles into our lives. Watching wildlife helps us understand migration patterns and life cycles relative to the changing seasons.
Grow a Garden
Growing a garden helps us develop an intimate understanding of the lifecycle our land endures through a seasonal year. Growing plants from seed, to flower, to fruit, is a tangible way to get involved in the ongoing cycles of nature. It’s in the garden that we become experts at understanding all phases of life: birth, youth, growth, maturity, decline, then finally, death and the afterlife. Learn how grow your own vegetable garden or garden by the cycles of the moon.
Begin a Sunrise Morning Ritual
Greeting each day with the sunrise is a beautiful way to begin the day connected to nature.
Watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee. Do some gentle stretching to the sound of morning birdsong. Journal as the day dawns. Simply sit and enjoy the view as the day begins again.
Watch the Sunset Every Day
Just like rising with the sun, this small ritual helps us connect deeper to the cycles of nature. Over time we see how the sun’s patterns change, and we enjoy the simple beauty of nature.
Go on a Daily Nature Walk
Get outside for a walk, even if it’s only for 30 minutes each day. This walk is a great way to take a step back from a busy life (especially on work days) and be present outdoors. On your walk, breathe the fresh air, let the sun kiss your face and feel the breeze in your hair. Notice what is happening in nature that day. What are the animals doing? What is the weather like? Daily observations of nature are easy to do but add up quickly to help us develop a strong relationship with the patterns of the natural world.
Go Analog for a Few Days
Check out of the digital world and into the natural world by going analog for a few days. Read a book in hand, tell stories, or go on an outdoor adventure for entertainment. Wear an analog wristwatch or guesstimate time by looking at the position of the sun. Use a paper map instead of a phone for directions. Cook over the fire. Wake with the sun and sleep when nighttime pulls you to bed. Going analog is a powerful way to recalibrate our human-animal bodies back to nature’s pace.
There are many ways to engage in meditative activities in nature, and it’s easier to do than you might think. Meditation is simply engaging in any ritual with mindfulness and connection to body and breath. Deep breathing and appreciating a view can be the most transformative and meditative experiences one can have outdoors. Breath-work is a great practice to try at the destination of a hike, in a cozy spot in the garden, or at a camp spot before beginning the day. Other ways of meditating outdoors can be gardening, going for a walk, wild swimming, or star gazing. The ritual of building a fire and then watching the flames dance is another highly meditative way of connecting with natural elements.
Brianne Dela Cruz is a master gardener, wild forager, campfire foodie, and acclaimed writer and photographer. From her home in Salt Lake City, she teaches online gardening and foraging courses for modern folks and budding naturalists as well as hosts seasonal community gatherings. Brianne's blog and online school, Gather & Grow, is a community of folks exploring the intersection between nature and personal growth by discovering ways to slow down and nourish themselves with nature.