Taking a Nature Break

Great Blue Heron: taken from one of my walks

Great Blue Heron: taken from one of my walks

Being outside has always been a fundamental part of my magical practice. As a witch I work magically with the ‘elements’ of earth water fire and air. What better way to connect with the elements than to be out in them?  One of the best parts of our recent move to Southern California is that I can count on being outside in good weather more days than not. Lately my sole active spiritual practice has been a daily walk with my dog and toddler son.

I have to say, one of the main reasons my walks are so juicy right now is that I’ve been taking part in a program called The Nature Process with Tabitha Jayne.  You will hear me talking a lot more about this program next year, when she runs it again, but for the meantime, if you want to check out a great teacher for working in nature, Tabi is your gal.

So in honor of high summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, today we are going to talk about 3 easy practices that will turn any ordinary walk into a magical one.

Set an intention for the walk

When I’m low on energy, time or just don’t feel like doing anything else I can always follow through with this one. Setting an intention for my walks turns each walk into a chance to manifest my desires.  Intentions can be simple like: “may each step of this walk bring me closer to relaxation.”  or they can be grand like: ‘with each step I am closer to knowing my purpose’.  Sometimes I use the walk to clear my energy, imagining what I want to leave behind me trailing off of me with every step.
Once you set an intention, pay special attention to what you see and hear on the walk. Do any animals show up? Specific plants? Also note any snippets of conversation you may overhear.

Practice presence

I’m not a meditator, never have been. So I usually glaze over when people mention ‘mindfulness’ or ‘being present’. But one trick I have learned to help me practice the art of, well, being present, is to tune into my senses in nature. I first learned about this taking a class in animal tracking. The teacher had us sit and listen, and really try to open up our ears to every sound we could hear in the woods. Let me tell you, if you’ve never tried this, the woods are LOUD.
We tend to think of nature as being quiet and peaceful, but I think that is because we tend to tune out the subtle sounds of nature.  When you sit and practice truly listening you can hear everything, the bugs, the wind, the birds, leaves dropping onto the ground. Once you have mastered listening, try the same thing  with seeing, and then feeling, and then smelling.
This practice gets you out of your head and signals your body to release all kinds of relaxing chemicals In your brain. Before you know it, you will be blissed out and in tune with everything around you.

Leave an offering of gratitude

My first experience with learning about leaving offerings was when I studied Western Herbalism. We were taught to always ask before harvesting a plant, and to always leave an offering in return. I never went anywhere in the woods without a small bag of cornmeal in my pocket.  Leaving an offering is a physical way to show your gratitude.
A practice my magical teacher Colette Gardiner taught me was to alway leave an offering at the beginning of a hike, and to ask to be shown the “magical side” of the trail. I also like to leave offerings for favorite tree, plant and animal spirits that I work with.
If you are leaving offerings in the wild make sure they are biodegradable, won’t attract pests, or habituate wild life to human food, and are free of invasive seeds. This may seem like a lot, but a simple mixture of herbs works well. I currently have an offering blend that contains rose petals, linden flower, rosemary, thyme and cedar leaf.

Just get outside

If all of this still seems overwhelming, just get yourself outside. Spending just 15 minutes a day outside boosts your immune system, and helps you live longer.
How about you? What are your favorite ways to enjoy the magic of nature? Leave a comment below.

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Leave a Comment

  • jamie July 6, 2014, 3:42 PM

    Great topic! I’d love to hear more about offerings. Getting outside has always been medicinal for me, but I never though about what I can leave there!

    • Allison Carr July 7, 2014, 9:29 PM

      Jamie, stay tuned! I have something in the works all about offerings.

  • Beth July 7, 2014, 8:39 PM

    My favorite way to enjoy nature is to go stay at my parents’ cabin. When the mosquitoes aren’t bad, the hikes are sublime. When the mosquitoes are bad, we head to the beach instead. Good medicine, either way!

    • Allison Carr July 7, 2014, 9:28 PM

      Sounds dreamy, how lucky to have a cabin to get away to. My idea of heaven.

  • Lily July 7, 2014, 9:09 PM

    Backpacking is top of my list. You’re forced to make due with limited man-made items. You’re on your feet, so you can’t speed past the views; you get to linger. Everything you need is on your back or in your environment and you can’t help but feel connected to the Earth.

    • Allison Carr July 7, 2014, 9:27 PM

      I love backpacking Lily! There is just something amazing that happens when you leave civilization behind.

  • Stacey July 8, 2014, 10:01 AM

    Oh, I love all of your reminders about the importance of taking a nature break! My favorite way to walk in nature is to be quiet and not distract myself with music or unnecessary noise. That is when my intuition, or my whispers, can be heard and I can tune into what my soul needs for the day.

  • Sam July 8, 2014, 5:21 PM

    I love this post. It’s so important to get out in nature, even if, as you say, you’re ‘just’ getting outside. It lifts me out of any funk, and I find it a bit of a moving meditation.
    I hadn’t thought to set an intention for it though, so that’s a great tip!

  • Ophelie July 15, 2014, 12:21 PM

    Great post! Yes nature has always been my savior, but I never thought about setting an intention. That does probably strengthen the power of it, and bring us in more focused moment. It is so interesting how ideas pops up while walking in the nature, so that now I even bring an audio recorder in case I have some genius thought coming. Because once back home it would be gone…

  • Mui August 20, 2014, 2:21 PM

    Totally agree with getting out in nature. Currently enjoying an adventure around the Pyrenees in Spain in our 4×4. Stunning scenery here. Being in nature is a great way to awake our senses, which are so easily dulled by modern life.

  • Jennifer August 21, 2014, 8:04 AM

    Thank you for such a beautiful post! I love to hike, and am going to start bringing offerings of gratitude. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Thank you!

  • danielle August 21, 2014, 7:28 PM

    I walk/bike dogs for a living. It’s the most calming & cleansing part of my day! It’s amazing how much you can hear when you turn your brain off and listen.