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Environmental Education Activities

Solo Hour in Nature

Description of a Natural Experience Exercise

James Neill
Last updated:
25 Nov 2004

Solo Hour in Nature

  • Calming and thought-provoking activity which brings people closer to nature

  • Arrange a visit to a local natural place (such as the coast) or natural event (such as sunset/sunrise/new moon).  Scout the area first and find an accessible but secluded area with enough room for people to spread out and not be disturbed.

  • Try to ensure there any no pressing activities on people's minds (housekeeping, etc. all dealt with), preferably in a previous session so you can go straight into this session without fuss.

  • Explain that participants are to spend an hour alone in nature.

  • In today's society, just being in nature is a surprisingly rare event and most people will be relieved to participate.

  • Often may think they spend quiet time along in nature, but we usually distract ourselves in the outdoors with physical or social activity.

  • Rabbi Moshe Leib put it this way: "A human being who has not a single to own every day is no human being."

  • As long as the group is on-side, avoid giving much up front information about the experience, so that it is more "raw" and "natural".

  • Allow each person to find a place on their own.

  • After approx. 1 hour, walk around and indicate for the group to come back together.

  • Form a circle and facilitate the group in sharing their experiences and thoughts about spending time in nature.

 

 

 

 

Equipment:
A patch of nature.  Can use night-time on hill, sunrise, sunset, or most natural handy location, esp. river, pond, ocean.  Can add "new age" music to help alter brain-waves into meditative state.

Time:
Total ~ 3 hours. Reconnaissance of location needed beforehand.  Don't underestimate time to location.  Include 5-10 minutes to brief and set scene for group, then solo time of ~60 minutes in nature, plus ~30 minutes discussion, and time back to origin.  To make creative use of time to location, combine with Solo Walk.

Brief description:

We are rarely "still" in nature.  Visit a natural place that is conveniently available.  Spend one hour in silence.  Simply observe and be.  Relaxing and opening.

Variations:

  1. Play new age music.  This may sound "tacky", but well chosen music can significantly deepen the experience, helping alter people's brain waves into achieving a more meditative state.  I have used and can recommend "Music for Rejuvenation" by Dr. Joseph Nagler and Janetta Petkus' "Moving in Time", part of a set of Ayurveda CDs.
     

  2. Allow participants to write or draw.
     

  3. Besides different natural locations, try other places for an hour of silence e.g.,:

  • a graveyard, church or meditation room (see also Write Your Own Eulogy)

  • a rubbish dump

  • top floor of a building or mountain, looking over a city, etc.

  1. Try different times, e.g., nighttime, moonrise, sunrise, sunset
     

  2. Provide verbal or written "meditations", e.g., quotes, anecdotes, philosophy, etc.  For example:

A human being who has not a single to own every day is no human being.
- Rabbi Moshe Leib

How comfortable are you with silence? Can you listen to yourself? To your source of spirit? Do you recognize respectful silence? Do you experience a silent time at home? What would it be like if you asked for some silence in your workplace during a meeting?
Silence is an unused tool that is very effective in all kinds of ways. Scott Peck says in the Different Drum, "Silence is the primary key to emptiness." Also, "More than half of Beethoven's music is silence. Without the silence there is no music; there is only noise." Most people have little true silence in their lives, yet it provides considerable peacefulness.
- Jerry Hampton, "Barriers to Communication"