Striving to attain a goal for children that involves supporting their spiritual development is one that can be set in the long-term by early learning teachers. Planning for experiences where outcomes that promote peace, mindfulness, and self-regulation are possible will help to reach that goal. The benefits to children are multiple. The outdoor environment has been determined as an ideal location for children to develop holistically. Holistic education is based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace (Miller, 2000). The natural world supports holistic education.
Yoga is a great way to help children make the connections between their mind, body and spirit and the natural world. This is an experience that can begin indoors by providing yoga books for children, as well as yoga mats, calming music, and posters illustrating children in yoga positions (Dietze & Kashin, 2016). This can trigger interests and provide a spark that can be ignited outdoors. Early learning teachers who support this in children should also try these experiences. Listen to this audio of a guided meditation and read the description that has been provided. Think about how you could you provide children with a similar experience.
Nature Connection Meditation
The goal of this guided meditation is to help you get out of your head, into your body, and connected to nature.
Humans are living animals connected to the web of life. Unfortunately, we get stuck in our heads (thinking, worrying, planning etc.). We don’t often experience life through our bodies and our senses.
When we feel disconnected, we can feel alone, not a part of the group, not good enough etc. Often we see ourselves hovering above nature, or stepping through an Eco-system rather than engaging. We don’t feel connected and a part of the natural world, so it’s hard to care about it.
We are all able to create connection to ourselves and the world we live in.
This guided Nature Connection Meditation has three main steps.
The first step is to connect with our breath. By becoming aware of our breath, we become more present in our body, and more responsive to life.
The next step is to open our senses and spend time noticing what our body feels, sees, smells and hears. This expands our experience of life to include our physical body and emotions.
The final step is to imagine the web or flow that connects all aspects of life on Earth and to choose to connect into it. By sensing an inward and outward connected flow, we can feel we are a part of nature.
Recommended use for this guided meditation:
- Plan to go outside with the meditation on your smartphone or device. Consider bringing a journal or paper and a pen for reflection after the meditation.
- Dress for the weather.
- When you arrive in the area you would like to connect with, take a deep breath and slowly look around. Notice if you feel “pulled” in a certain direction. It may be a physical feeling, or a certain area may look more appealing. Go to that spot.
- You can sit on the ground, or stand, take your shoes off, or leave them on.
- Listen to the Nature Connection Meditation and follow along with the instructions.
When you incorporate this nature connection meditation into your life and into your practice with children, you will be helping to build their emotional and spiritual connections to the natural world. This will benefit children and help them achieve a level of calmness that they can use to self-regulate. Plan and program with intention for these experiences, as they will support the broad goal of holistic education and the specific outcome of spiritual engagement with nature.