Nature Painting: Feeling a sense of awe and wonder at nature has been found to boost good feelings in kids and grown-ups. Combining nature with art can be a beautiful way for kids to feel a sense of awe and build emotional awareness at the same time. For this activity, kids go on an outdoor “scavenger hunt” to find interesting pieces of nature (e.g., pinecones, flowers, leaves) to use as paintbrushes. Afterward, kids choose different colors to represent different emotions, then use the pieces of nature they found to create art that reflects how they feel on the inside (or even how they feel in nature!)
Sample Progress Note: The focus of the session was (tailor based on treatment plan). The therapist engaged the client in an activity of identifying and expressing emotion through art and cultivating a sense of awe by creating paint with natural material (e.g., flowers). The client responded to the activity by (fill in the blank)
Relationship Strategy of the week:
Relationship Growth Happens in Nature: Spending time together with nature as a backdrop can enhance the ways partners connect. Simply being in nature has been shown in research to help reduce feelings of stress and boost moods and couples in nature can be completely unplugged and completely tuned into the present moment with each other. On top of that, having shared meaningful experiences (like ones you can find in nature!) is one of the leading ways to enhance connection in relationships.
Here are some ideas to get started:
Take a walk around your neighborhood together and talk about your days, your hopes and dreams, or fond memories.
Plan a trip (even if it’s just to another place in town) to spend intentional time together in a beautiful natural space.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist supported the client in exploring ways they strengthen their relationship by sharing meaningful experiences in nature. The client reported that it was (helpful/not helpful/etc) to understand their how to strengthen their relationship by sharing experiences in nature and was able to identify (one/a couple/several) ways to connect through nature in the relationship.
Adult strategy of the week:
Nature Heals: Research shows that simply spending time in nature can help people feel more positive, feel more grounded, improve their memory, increase their sense of gratitude, and lower stress. Spring time is the perfect chance to cultivate a renewed sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. Some ideas to get started:
Move around your neighborhood and take a moment to intentionally notice and appreciate new buds on bushes and trees.
Spend some time next to a natural body of water, such as a lake or river, and again, intentionally notice and appreciate the water.
Watch a sunset or sunrise.
Step outside and admire the light shining through the trees, feel the wind, and notice all the life that exists in the outside world.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist supported the client in exploring how connecting with nature can strengthen their relationship to self and others, as well as promote feelings of awe. The client reported that was (helpful/not helpful/painful/etc) to further understand how connecting with nature can enhance their life and they named ways to connect with nature.
Mindfulness/Meditation of the week:
Reflecting on Your Oneness with Nature: Many people feel connected to nature, whether that’s a specific place, particular type of nature, or even a time of day. In the hustle and bustle of our indoor and digital worlds, sometimes we can feel disconnected from nature. This mindfulness meditation is written to promote feelings of connectedness and oneness with nature.
Sample Progress Note: The focus of this session was… The therapist led Ct. in a mindfulness activity to cultivate resilience and wellbeing through connecting with nature. Ct. (engaged/did not engage in the activity), and they reported that the meditation was (helpful/difficult/not helpful).
Begin by finding a tall seat. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs and gently close your eyes. Without changing anything, bring your awareness to your breath. Simply observe the sensations as your breath moves in and out of your body – perhaps the rise and fall of the belly, the movement of air at the tips of the nostrils, or the quiet oceanic noise of the air flowing in and out. Allow each breath to calm the body, your mind, and focus your awareness on the present moment. (pause to practice breath awareness)
With each inhale, become aware of the force of Nature within you. Feel this life energy animate your skeleton, lifting your chest and lengthening your spine. Each inhalation brings awareness and alertness to your senses- the sounds near and far, the temperature, the feeling of your weight being supported by the ground beneath you, any pleasant aromas floating in the air. With each exhale, feel your body release and relax. (pause)
Inhale and recall a peaceful scene from nature. Whether you visualize the beach, mountains, or forest, move your eyes behind your eyelids from left to right, up and down taking in the different objects around. Perhaps you imagine animals grazing or birds flying up above. Imagine the sounds that would be present – a distant caw of a hawk or the sound of waves washing ashore. Feel the sun and the wind against your skin, the earth beneath you. Perhaps you can smell or even taste the pine or salt in the fresh air. Each exhale brings you a deeper sensation of serenity. (pause)
The elements of nature – fire, air, water, earth, and ether – are the forces that drive creation, preservation, and transformation. Together, they enable the wonderful experience of life and beauty of the world in which we live.
For each element, you will choose a primary quality and a visual image associated with the element. As you breathe in, visualize that image and feel the energy of the quality flowing into you. As you exhale, allow your body to release and relax, feeling the powers of nature within you. Repeat this exercise for several breath cycles for each element.
Starting with fire, you can visualize any image such as a candle or the sun. Choose an associated quality such as power, transformation, determination.
For air, you may imagine the wind sweeping across the tall grass of a prairie or prayer flags flapping outside a hut high in the mountains. Some qualities you may choose include change, lightness, new goals.
For water, the many options for imagery include ocean waves, a still lake. The qualities include protection, nourishment, purity, intuition.
For earth, you might imagine a beautiful landscape or lush vegetation and choose a quality such as stability or nourishment (physical or spiritual).
For ether, you might think of outer space, the darkness in the expanses of our universe, or the subtle space between each cell in our body. You can choose any quality such as creativity, cohesion, expansion.
On your inhales, focus on one of the elements. Feel its qualities move through you – the heat and transformation of fire, refreshing tides of change that flow with air and water, the abundance and richness of the earth that nourishes and supports us, the peace and order of ether. Inhale a growing awareness of the properties of the element within you. With each exhale, feel the quality and the powers of nature flow through you. (pause)
When you are ready, inhale and invite your awareness back to your body and your senses. Tune back in to the sounds around you, your heart beat, your breath. Feel the deep connection and harmony you’ve created with nature and keep an awareness of the forces that are within you.
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