Watching a few sunsets. I haven’t seen one of those at all for a very long time, watching the stars, feeling the sand under my toes — the little things.
He went on to say:
You realise it is those little beautiful moments of life that are really precious, and spending time with my family of course.
That’s what’s important, not the big issues.
It is interesting and significant that the “little things” Peter mentions are all centred on nature. Being deprived of them reminded him of how precious and important such little things are.
I am grateful for his reminder because it is easy to forget that simple encounters with the natural world are essential for mental and spiritual wellbeing. They are literally “mind changers” – lifting our mood, calming and refreshing us, making us more sociable and providing us with restoring moments of stillness.
Prompted by Peter’s remarks, I have compiled a list of ways of having these encounters at home or relatively easily in other places. Most of the list come from an excellent blog, Be a fun mum. The blog’s author is “Kelly”, herself a mum with four children. I was greatly impressed by what Kelly had to say about herself and about the purpose and aim of her blog. Her site is well worth visiting especially if you are a parent.
Although the list of activities Kelly has drawn up is intended for parents and children, many of her suggestions are suitable for people of all ages. These are the ones I have chosen along with a few of my own.
Why not try some today, remembering to focus as completely on the experience as you can. You may find that breathing slowly and deeply helps you to immerse yourself in some of the more passive activities – watching a sunset, listening to birds and lying on grass, for example.
2. Look at the clouds.
3. Watch where the wind moves for 2 minutes.
4. Walk along a beach at dusk.
5. Watch a sunset.
6. Look at the stars.
7. Look at the full moon.
9. Count the birds (and perhaps try to identify them).
10. Listen to bird songs and calls.
11. Look for a bird’s nest in spring.
12. Listen to a CD of bird calls.
14. Listen to natural running water for 5 minutes.
15. Notice the reflection of the sun on water.
16. Skim a rock on water.
17. Paddle in a shallow stream.
18. Visit a waterfall.
19. Notice how the raindrops look on a flower, leaf or go outside in the early morning and look at dew on grass.
20. Look for butterflies.
21. Watch how a beetle moves.
23. Watch goldfish in an indoor aquarium or garden pond.
24. Watch skinks and/or other lizards in your garden.
25. Study the webs of orb spiders.
26. Smell flowers.
27. Crumple leaves (of aromatic plants like eucalypts and native mint bushes) and smell them.
28. Feel the bark of different trees.
29. Take photographs of nature and make them into a photo book.
30. Climb a tree (onto the lower branches will do).
31. Have a meal in your garden.
33. Walk on grass barefoot.
34. Sit under a big tree and look up into the branches.
35. Read a book outside.
36. Climb on rocks.
37. Go for a short walk to look at neighbourhood gardens or to a nearby park.
38. Look at greenery outside the window for 5 minutes.
39. Arrange flowers inside your home.
40. Go for a drive and look at the scenery.
41. Borrow books about nature and wildlife from your local library.
42. Go for a “green” walk in the rain.
43. Cook on an open fire.
44. Go for a family torchlight walk in a garden or park.
Something else you might find interesting to do is to think about the answer you would give to the “thing you would most like to do” question, if you found yourself in Peter Greste’s situation.
My own list would include: listening to bird calls at dawn, looking at my fernery in dappled sunlight and looking at the photos of my bushwalking and trekking trips.
You are more than welcome to share your list as a comment.