Together, we’ve explored the importance of nature to our well being. The natural world such as plants, herbs, and the Earth itself supports and helps us stay grounded. Incorporating the natural world into our daily lives has led to more sustainable methods of self care and deeper connections with it, too. Immersing ourselves with nature is a practice of mindfulness, humility, and patience. You might want to document these practices to examine their own growth, as well as expand their understanding of what it means to have a connection with nature. This documentation can take the form of what is known as nature journaling.
What is Nature Journaling?
Nature journaling refers to, quite literally, keeping a journal about your experiences with nature. It is more than that, though. The practice of nature journaling follows your exploration of nature and the personal connections you make with it. As Clare Walker Leslie and Charles E. Roth state, “…in fact, it is about developing a very personal book of life, one that reflects the life around you – the experiences, encounters, reflections, and observations that you are moved to record, remember, study, and reflect upon” (2000). Keeping such a journal requires contemplation and mindfulness of your surroundings so you can consciously engage with and in nature. Interestingly, nature journaling is one of the oldest methods of recording the natural world. We have seen examples of this on cave drawings from our ancestors, stories painted on vases, and more. This tradition has held up for many ages, changing and adapting appropriately. We can honor nature with similar, if not the same, methods our ancestors did.
Benefits of Nature Journaling
Keeping a nature journal has a myriad of benefits ranging from connecting with nature to exercising your observational skills. In this sense, nature journaling relies on the five senses and your ability to be in tune with them – what is it you are seeing, smelling, feeling? Question the ways in which your senses are being engaged and how this affects your thoughts. This practice of being consciously aware of your senses will help you to slow down and contemplate intentionally. What also accompanies this practice is an increase of mental stimulation, a deepened awareness of your surroundings, and a break from our technology dependent world. Nature journaling will help you to spend time in nature and thoughtly respond to your surroundings, resulting in a sincere connection with the natural world.
Beginning Your Journal
You not only have the opportunity to decide what you record in your journal but how you record it. If painting is your desired method of journaling, paint! If drawing will better record your surroundings and depict your senses best, invest in those required supplies. However, you can always add on more supplies as your practice continues. You do not need many supplies to start your journal, as a simple journal and pencil or pen will do.
Many people, like myself, tend to get caught up in how their writing looks or in the wonkiness of their drawings. It is important to de-emphasize the products of our recordings. In order to receive the full benefits of nature journaling, we must highlight the journey of the practice itself. After all, nature journaling is the documentation of your senses and observations to nature and your connection with it.
Nature journaling can be done in gardens, at beaches, indoors, and more. These places offer many focuses to record and fill your journal with. Experiment with them! Try to sit with an orange and take note of its smell, its shape, its color. Practice this with your cat, seashells, and a houseplant. Connecting with nature can be done in many ways, and nature journaling will help you to do this intentionally with where you are and what you have just as it did with our ancestors.
Lorena Macias is a San Antonio native who seeks to uncover and tend to the roots of her Yaqui ancestry through the use of herbs, plants, and nature as a whole. When she’s not writing blog pieces or taking pictures for the In The Weeds Instagram, she is rewatching Charmed, cuddling with her familiar (cat), and chilling with her plant allies. Stay tuned for future blogs to read more of her musings and the knowledge she has to offer.
Leslie, C. W., & Roth C. E. (2000). Keeping a nature journal: Discover a whole new way of seeing the world around you. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.