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Connecting with Nature

and how I developed a daily practice

· Insights,Something to Try,Attention

A few years ago I decided that I would take a photo each day when I was out walking the dog and share it on Facebook. I didn't really have a plan for how long I'd do this for but it seemed like a good challenge. My intention was to try out different routes and discover new places. Aiming to do a different walk each day.

The first result was that through the power of Facebook I connected with friends and we'd arrange to meet up and they'd share a favourite walk with me. It was really lovely to have people to walk, and discover new places, but I discovered that I was struggling to take my daily photos when I was walking with someone else.

Unconsciously I had developed a mindful, or meditative practice. My focus was on the natural world I could see. It might be the landscape, a distant view, patterns in the sky, or perhaps rain drops on a blade of grass, or dew shimmering in the early morning light on a spiders web, or new leaves quietly emerging and signalling the start of spring.

Eventually I was back to walking on Rodborough Common most days. Rather than becoming bored with the same place everyday, with my full attention on the natural world and changing seasons there was always something new to notice.

After years of walking around the common and not really paying much attention to the details, I began to see the wildflowers, and become curious about their names. I'd notice small insects in the flowers, moths and butterflies I'd never seen before.

I didn't need to take photos, I could have just looked, but there is something really satisfying about the attention needed to find a subject to photograph, to frame the picture and then the delight of sharing it with others. I even began to notice the light, and what a difference it made to a picture.

Walks with Murdock became something I really looked forward to. A opportunity to see something new, to create a new picture, and time to feel grounded and connected with nature. It was a difficult time at home and I am sure that this simple daily practice really helped my mental health.

I even started a Facebook page Murdock Outdoors to share my daily pictures. It's been a while since I posted in there but there are a whole lot of photos if you'd like to take a look.

So, if this was so good for me why did I stop? Looking back at Murdock Outdoors I see that it was July 2016 when I last posted photos. I didn't stop walking, and I didn't stop taking photos, I just stopped sharing them. I discovered that there is always something new to notice in nature, and the act focusing on the small details of a flower, or the colours in the sky, or even how the grass changes over the seasons, meant my mind got a break from all the worries it was juggling at the time. It's hard to be angry or frustrated when you discover that each little tiny flower you are looking at is the shape of a heart.

Do you have a daily practice that helps you feel grounded and connected with nature? Where could you take yourself for a daily walk in nature and see what you notice?

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