This summer is different for most everyone, including school-age children and parents. With school out of session and social distancing still in effect, many parents are searching for creative ways to keep their kids active. Now is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy nature with fun and imaginative mindfulness activities. That’s right—mindfulness can be fun, and it’s possible to find opportunities for mindfulness all around us.
Below are a few of my favorite, family-friendly, outdoor mindfulness activities. I recommend trying these with your kids and then allowing them to create some innovative mindfulness games of their own.
1. Walking Barefoot & Connecting with our Five Senses
Ever wonder why you feel relaxed and connected when you walk barefoot in nature? Scientists and spiritualists agree that walking barefoot on grass, soil, or even near water allows your body to ground itself with the negative ionic charge of the earth, which can have powerful effects like calming your nerves, reducing inflammation, stabilizing your blood pressure, and even bringing your internal clock back into sync.*
One of the greatest gifts we can offer our children is the practice of connecting with nature through grounding. By escaping the concrete jungle and showing them how to walk barefoot on the earth as humans have done since the dawn of time, we allow them to enjoy the health benefits of grounding while also connecting with the beauty that is inherent in Mother Earth.
While walking barefoot, it can be fun to practice tapping into our senses by sharing what we see, hear, smell, and feel as we enjoy a thoughtful stroll. By taking a deep breath and holding the breath in our mouth for a moment, it’s even possible to test our sense of taste in the moment. Perhaps we taste salt in the air nearby the ocean or even the palette-cleansing taste of fresh dew on morning grass.
2. Mindfulness Scavenger Hunt
For those looking for an even more imaginative way to explore nature, a mindfulness scavenger hunt can be the perfect family activity! To enjoy, first take a few deep breaths to connect your mind and body to your breath. (Even better if you can do this while grounding with the earth, as described in activity #1).
Next, begin the nature scavenger hunt, and, as you find each object, think about why it makes you feel a certain way. You can also take note of the color, shape, size, or texture of each object as you find it.
1. Find something that makes you happy.
2. Find something that gives you inspiration.
3. Find something that gives you energy.
4. Find something that relaxes you.
5. Find something that helps you feel connected to nature.
Now, take turns making up new clues for items to find in nature. It can be exciting to search for objects that evoke a feeling (i.e., happy, sad, relaxed) or even a sensory experience (i.e., soft, smooth, rough, bright, green, red, heavy, light). As imaginations grow, so does the connection of little minds to nature’s beauty.
3. Cloud Gazing
If you’re looking for a more relaxing family activity, cloud gazing is a fan favorite. Simply get comfortable on a patch of grass or soft soil with a good view of the sky, and use your imagination to find animal shapes in the clouds above. As clouds move across the sky, it’s fun to see how they morph from one shape to another. This is a great activity for helping little minds bring imaginative concepts to life.
And, if there happen to be no clouds in the sky, a fun alternative is to find shapes in trees, bushes, gardens, and even in a stream of water. Nature offers no lack of fodder for mindfulness fun.
These are just a few of the mindfulness activities waiting outside for you and your kids this summer. If you have ideas for other activities that you’d like to share with the Meditot community, send them to email@example.com, and I’ll feature them on my social media pages!
*Slon, Stephanie. “7 Health Benefits of Going Barefoot Outside”. Mar 29 2012. www.mindbodygreen.com.