The quest for understanding the self and search for the meaning of life is as old as memory. No one can give us the correct answer because for each one of us, the path to the answer is different. But clues are all around in nature because understanding Self is linked to understanding life. In this post, we look for answers in nature by numbers and see where they lead us.
Many people are afraid of Math because no one helped them make friends with numbers. Nobody introduced them to the wonder and wisdom that is hidden in the language of the Universe.
After all the positive feedback for our Healing forest learning program and requests for more nature games, meditations and mindfulness activities we have come up with this interesting walk format. We hope these mindfulness exercises help you create new learning and a new respect for yourself. Because nature and numbers are a part of you, just as you are a part of them. But first, here’s an inspiring film by Cristobal Vila.
NATURE BY NUMBERS FILM
NUMBERS IN NATURE & MEDITATION
Let us take a slow and gentle walk in nature. Our aim is to observe and reflect. Walk with a few like minded friends or go alone. Carry a pen and paper to note down your insights and experiences. And be open to try something new. (A free download of all nature meditations in this article is given at the very end.)
Math is like love; a simple idea, but it can get complicated.
9 Numbers in Nature: We begin the walk with an exercise to start seeing numbers in nature. Participants have to find the numbers 1 to 9 in their surroundings. Everyone can quickly strike off 1 and 2 as we all have one nose and two ears. The other numbers have to be found outside of the human body. For example a flower with 5 petals, an ant with 6 legs. All participants are given a time limit of 10 minutes to find as many of the remaining numbers as possible. The exercise is to be done individually or in pairs. The group reassembles at the end of the time to work together as a team and find any missing number that no one could find.
8 Patterns in nature: Nature is full of patterns that have astounded mathematicians and poets alike for centuries. One such pattern is called the Fibonacci. The Fibonacci sequence starts like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 and so on forever. Each number is the sum of the two numbers that come before it. It’s a simple pattern, but it appears to be a kind of built-in numbering system to the cosmos. The numbers in the pattern can be found in our own DNA as well the spirals of the Galaxy.
The numbers of the Fibonacci sequence are very commonly seen in petals of flowers . Examples include the lily, which has three petals, buttercups, which have five, the chicory’s 21, the daisy’s 34. These are all numbers from the Fibonacci sequence.
Nature Meditation: The aim of our exercise is to find interesting patterns in nature and take pictures. Try and see if you can collect a similar pattern in two different objects of nature.
7 Colours: Every Colour that you see is a number. Light travels as a wave and each colour in the spectrum has a specific wavelength and frequency. Our visual sense is not only able to gauge and see different colours but also associates certain emotions with them subconsciously.
Nature Meditation: The aim of our next exercise is to spot all the 7 rainbow colours during your nature walk. Each individual makes a list of at-least 7 different colours they can observe during the walk. The aim is also to spend a little time with each separate colour and become aware of how the colour makes us feel. At the end of the exercise people who are drawn to the same colour can group together to see whether they share other common personality traits.
6 Geometry: Have you ever marvelled at the beauty and shape of a spiral sea-shell? Geometry is all about shapes and their properties. Lines, curves and shapes that can be drawn on paper make up plane geometry, while 3 dimensional objects are part of solid geometry.
The spiral curve is one of the many examples in nature that give us a hint of the underlying simplicity which gives rise to the complexities in nature. The study of geometry allows us to become aware of the larger design of Nature. Here’s a short film on the curve called ‘life’. Watch it patiently to find a beautiful lesson for the ups and downs of life.
Nature Meditation: Creating a spiral. This can be done individually or in a group. The intention is to create a beautiful spiral with objects found in nature. Make it as big as you can. Each person starts from the same center point and creates one arm of a spiral radiating outwards. After working on it for 10 minutes, the creator stands on the outer edge of their spiral arm and starts to walk back to the center slowly and mindfully following the path of their spiral. The last person to reach the center wins. (You cannot pause and have to continue walking inward as slow as you can).*Don’t forget to erase your spiral and disperse everything back in nature, before you leave.
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5 Senses are our window to the world. Every person perceives the world differently based on how each of their different senses have developed. Staying in the city does take a toll on our overall sense perceptions where some senses can be overloaded like our sight and some underdeveloped like our smell. Being in nature allows us to relax our senses and sharpen them so that our experience of the world can become richer.
Nature Meditation: Walk or sit silently in the forest. Focus on any one sense at a time for a short period of 2-3 minutes. Make a note of all the unique things you can observe and sense. Repeat the exercise with another of your senses. Notice how each sense reveals something new about the nature around us. The aim of this exercise is to bring us into the present moment and stop our thoughts from leaping into the past or future.
4 Breath of 4: In this exercise we focus on our breath to bring our mind to the present moment and take the help of numbers to build mindfulness. We use counting to stay focused on the breath. This is a very good exercise for creating alertness and concentration.
The exercise is known as Box Breathing where we breathe in 4 stages. Inhale – Hold – Exhale – Hold, all with equal durations, from 2 to 5 seconds. For example, inhale for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds, exhale for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 3 seconds. And repeat that. Do it any time you can for a few minutes
This meditation makes us realise that numbers live with us as part of our lives and we can always turn to them for focus, attention and peace of mind.
3 Triangles: One of the most interesting things about triangles is that if you sum up the three angles within any triangle, they will always total 180 degrees. The Triangle is a favorite among architects. As a geometrical object, the triangle is the strongest shape, capable of holding its shape, having a strong base, and providing immense support.
Nature Meditation: Just like the 3 sides of a triangle, there are 3 stages that connect all life on our planet. An interesting exercise with number 3 is to observe the 3 different stages of life. Birth. Maturity. Death. Find and take pictures of objects in different stages. Reflect on how everything is changing from one stage to another.
π Circles: Take a circle. Any circle in the world. Measure it’s length, all the way around the circle. Then measure it across, from one edge to the other edge. Now divide the two lengths. You will always get the same number. 3.14…
This number is called Pi and is often written using the greek symbol π. What’s strange about Pi is that the division is never complete. You can go on dividing without reaching an end. π has been calculated to over two quadrillion decimal places and still there is no pattern to the digits.
Nature Meditation: Spot the circles. Count the maximum number of circular objects one can notice in your surrounding nature within a time frame of 5 minutes. If you can, try and measure the circumference and diameter of any circle and divide them to find your own Pi.
2 Opposites: Nature is made up of opposites. Day and night. Left and right. Sound and silence. Hot and cold. To observe the two opposing sides of nature is to understand our own true nature.
Nature Meditation: For this exercise participants divide into 2 equal groups ‘Positives’ and ’Negatives’. Members of the 2 groups walk in separate directions and each individual (depending on their group) makes a list of 5 positives or 5 negatives they observe in nature. The groups reassemble after 5 minutes and make pairs between the positives and negatives group. Each pair then tries to see how many matching opposites do they have between their 2 lists. For e.g.: If one person wrote ‘light’ and the other person wrote ‘shadow’ then it is considered a successful match.
With this exercise we observe that perception of life – positive or negative is based on our mind. And the mind can be trained to choose. *Some wise people might raise a doubt and say that in nature there are no positives and negatives. Everything just is. They are right. Agree with them and tell them it’s just a game.
1 Oneness: Have you ever wondered why we only count in multiples of 10 ? A counting base of 10 is natural probably because we have 10 fingers. In ancient societies, a base 10 system wasn’t always used. The Sumerians used a base 60 system. This is why we count time in bases of 60 (60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute). Machines are built using switches, so it is natural for them to count only off (0) and on (1).This system is called binary.
There can be many other number systems, but one thing connects them all. Numbers are concepts which only have meaning when they relate to each other. In a sense, it is this relationship that gives each number a specific meaning in the larger number system. For e.g 5 is related to 10,15,20,25 in a certain way. Here’s another chain of relationships: 1,2,6,24, 120….Can you figure out the next 2 numbers in this chain?
Nature Meditation: Participants take some time out to observe the many relationships that exist in nature. Each person comes up with a chain of nature relations. For e.g. Sun – Plant – Flower – Bee. The aim is to see who can come up with the longest chain of relationships… and perhaps to realize that we are all part of multiple chain of relationships, which give our life true meaning.
0The number Zero is widely seen as one of the greatest innovations in human history. Zero is both a number and a concept meaning the absence of any quantity. With the help of Zero we can do complicated equations and perform calculus. It is also at the heart of the language of computers which speak in 0’s and 1’s.
In philosophical terms it represents nothingness or emptiness out of which all existence arises. We end our nature walk by taking a few minutes to walk in silence and reflect on the concept of zero.
Meditating on zero is a meditation in humility. It is to become aware that in the vastness of the Universe – both in space and time, our small individuality amounts to nothingness. And yet, just like the importance of zero, one can realize how significant even the most insignificant thing in the world can be.
MEDITATIONS ON NATURE | FREE DOWNLOAD
Download link of 2 posters for mindfulness meditations on nature by numbers.
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Healing Forest is a volunteer driven project that aims to bring people and forests closer to each other through creativity and mindfulness. Our aim is simple. Helping people heal. Helping forests heal.