How can we grow our mind with nature? Let us introduce you to Mind Play walks, with activities that boost your attention span, observation, imagination, and emotional intelligence.
Just like we nourish our body with food, we can develop our mind through the play of our senses. It’s because the things we sense affects the things we think, feel, and learn. With the help of nature outside, we get a chance to understand our own inner nature and expand our mind.
This post is part of our Nature Play Walks, where we share some unique ideas each month to grow your mind with nature.
Here’s a wonderful Native American story about an Indian chief and his grandson. The Chief says, “A fight is going on inside my mind. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, greed, arrogance, false pride, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, kindness, humility, and compassion. This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person too.”
The grandson thinks about it for a minute and asks his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief replies, “The one you feed.”
Mind Play Walk
UNITS: These activities have the greatest effect when done in small groups. As you head out into nature, it’s best to create pairs and give them responsibility for each other. Furthermore, create small units of 6~8 people (3 or 4 pairs in a unit). This will not only make the walk more manageable, but also create better sharing and bonding between the smaller units.
Start with a short 10 minute walk in nature. Go slow. Talk less. Feel more.
Mind Play: One Thing
Stand in a circle. The group leader shares 1 thing in nature which is bringing them calm. All participants try and sense that 1 thing in silence for 30 seconds. Repeat the process with the next participant, until the circle is complete.
Insight: This exercise helps us calm down, and be present to nature. Sharing our sense with each other grows our awareness and enriches our experience of nature.
Mind Play: Who Am I
Participants take a short 10 minute walk in nature. Each person finds something in nature which represents them as a person. Regroup after the walk to share your object and why you chose it.
Insight: This activity helps us get to know each other better and the values we hold dear. It is also a good way of seeing yourself reflected in nature.
Mind Play: Game of Imagination
Place all the objects collected in the last round in the center of a circle. Pick up any object from the pile and ask group members to use their imagination to turn this object into something else. For e.g: A long stick can become a flying broom, or a microphone stand or a paddle for a boat. Participants can’t name the new object but have to enact it out. The others try and guess what the object is being turned into. See how many different things one object can become, before moving on to the next one.
Mind Play: I Spy
This is a game to sharpen your observation, focus, and attention. As the group walks in nature, the leader finds something unique or interesting and calls out its name by saying “I spy a …(name of object – e.g mushroom / owl / blue flower). The first member in the group to spot the object, becomes the lead and gets to call out the next interesting object.
Mind Play: Connections
This is the last activity for the group and is linked to the ‘Who Am I‘ activity. Everyone stands in a circle, with members who chose object that are most similar standing next to each other in a cluster. So people who chose to be some kind of tree or plant will stand next to each other as a small group. In the second stage, those who don’t have any partner will try and find a connection with another person or group that is related to their nature object. For example – birds can join the trees. The clouds can join the rivers. Participants declare their connection before merging into a larger group. The cycle repeats until there is only one big group left. End the activity with a group hug.
Insight: To grow in life, one has to form connections with others. Those who are similar to us as well as those who are different. This activity teaches us about the interconnectedness of life and we learn how to create meaningful connections with others.
All of us are different. But we share the same home – our Earth. And all life is deeply connected to each other. That is the secret. We are all part of Nature’s Play.
These mind play ideas not only help us create meaningful walks, but when the insights gained from the walk are applied to our lives they help us create a meaningful world.
Mind Play Walks: Closure
Keep a small note book or journal where you can pen down your thoughts and insights after the walk. Journaling is a very important part of the learning process. It helps us preserve the experience and strengthens our growth. The notebook allows us to revisit the reflections, so that one can relive the experience of the nature walk. It also gives us a source of ideas and insights that we can turn to, in our time of need. Do share your insights in the comments or on our Facebook group. It will transform your individual learning into our collective learning.
If you haven’t already, do join our Nature Play Walks to get an update on the next walk which focuses on creativity and nature art. Please post pictures and stories from your mind play walk on our Facebook group. A few lucky winners will get a surprise gift.
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. Please share this post so it reaches those who will find it useful.