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Mindfulness walks in nature

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that focuses on the present moment through paying attention, in a non-judgmental manner, to your senses and surroundings. Practicing mindfulness in nature is a great way to achieve a sense of balance and peace, and to connect with the places that are most meaningful to us.

Doing low to moderate exercise in nature on a regular basis can help to lower blood pressure, improve sleep and increase energy levels. Mindfulness walks take this idea further and help you slow down and focus on the present moment - each step, each breath – feeling calm and relaxed.

Come along for a mindfulness walk at Kinglake National Park

Relax, focus your mind on the present and join Ranger Tony Fitzgerald for a 15-minute mindfulness walk along the Stuart-Judd Track at Jehosaphat Gully at Kinglake National Park, located on the traditional lands of both the Taungurung and Wurundjeri Peoples.




7 Days of Mindfulness in Nature

Kinglake National Park ranger Tony Fitzgerald helped us put together a seven-day program for developing mindfulness in nature. Why not give it a try? You might be surprised by how much you change in just a week. Tony has decades of practice in the field of meditation in nature.

Tony says “mindfulness has never been more needed.”

Tip: Keeping a journal is a great way to get the most out of this program.

Day 1: Breath

Today, focus on your breath. Put your hands on your stomach; don’t force your breathing – just become aware of how your body breathes. Gradually relax into a slower, deeper belly breath.

It sounds such a simple practice. The challenge is to remember to do this through our busy days!

Day 2: Sound

When you’re focusing on sound, try not to be too specific in your identification. Instead, says Tony, “just be aware of the soundscape around you.”

Try spending 5-10minutes immersed in your soundscape today.

Day 3: Sight

A mindful gaze can be a remarkably different way to see the world. Just like with sounds, you can learn to be softly aware of your visual surroundings.

Explore different ways of looking at your surroundings today.

Day 4: Place

Today, try to find your spot: a park bench, a creek bank, a grassy patch – anywhere you can come back to, so you can appreciate the changes of the natural world over time.

As you come back to your spot, see what’s changed. Have leaves fallen? Have new plants or flowers sprung up?

Challenge yourself to sit in place for 10 minutes today and make note of any changes in your mindfulness journal.

Day 5: Creativity

Being creative in nature is an excellent way to get into the present moment. And, as Tony says, there’s no wrong way to do it.

It might be a video, sound recording, or editing images on your phone, you might build a sculpture out of twigs and sticks, or if you’re keeping a journal, why not do a few sketches or write a poem? Follow your impulses and give yourself license to create in nature.

Day 6: Practicing Patience

Being in nature is a great way to help us along the path to patience.

Think about the techniques you’ve practiced in the last five days. If you’ve been journaling, have a look at how your entries have changed, and see what new things you’ve noticed in the natural world and in yourself. And see what revelations nature might have to offer you. It might come at an unexpected moment.

Day 7: Walking – Lyrebird’s Step

On your last day of mindfulness in nature, take a walk - but not as you know it.

Tony mentions a Native American technique called fox walking, popularised by the author Tom Brown. But for a walk through a Victorian bush setting, why not call it the lyrebird’s step?

Walk through your natural surroundings – maybe to the spot you chose on day four – with a lyrebird’s step. Let your gaze absorb what’s around you. Listen to the soundscape – appreciate the fingerprint of the moment you’re in. And when you’re at your spot, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned, how you feel, and how you might carry these techniques with you into the future.




Ready to continue your mindfulness journey?

There’s a walking trail to suit everyone’s fitness and abilities. Explore the Parks Victoria website to find your local park. Parks Victoria offers a range of free easy, intermediate and advanced volunteer-led park walks and mindfulness walks for those who prefer a guided group walk experience. Visit the guided park walks page for further information.

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothing, and when you finish your walk, take a few more deep breaths, pause and reflect on the calm sense of being in nature. Slowly return to your regular activity.

Other parks to enjoy mindfulness walks

 
Ferns in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Badger Weir

Badger Weir Picnic Area is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or barbecue. Visitors can enjoy fresh mountain air and forest walks passing through ancient fern gullies, across clear mountain streams and meandering among mighty Mountain Ash.
Maroondah Reservoir Park in the Yarra Ranges National Park.

Maroondah Reservoir Park

Maroondah features gardens with stands of native and exotic trees, native animals and birds and walking tracks. Its playground, lawns and cool summer shade make it a popular picnic destination in warmer months.
Rainforest Gallery in Yarra Ranges National Park

Rainforest Gallery

This beautiful site features a 40 metre long observation platform (one of only three of its type in Australia) which takes you into the rainforest canopy 15 metres above the ground.
A couple in their sixties walk their two flat coated retriever dogs through the Alfred Nicholas Gardens among the changing autumn colours .

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Garden

The gardens will delight all year round. In Spring, it is blooming with rhododendrons, azaleas, camelias, kalmias and flowering cherries on the lake. Summer is the time to see hydrangeas, fuchsias, native ferns, rhododendrons and native terrestrial orchids. In Autumn the foliage of maples, beech and the famous golden ginkgos on the lake is stunning. In Winter you will see camelias and the early rhododendrons.
A path in Pirianda Garden in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Pirianda Garden

Designed to take advantage of the steep slopes, the terraced garden of Pirianda is distinctive for its combination of botanically important trees, shrubs and perennials with an over storey of large blackwoods and mountain ash towering over the natural fern gullies.
Sherbrooke Falls in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

Sherbrooke Falls

Tracks leading from Sherbrooke and O’Donohue Picnic Ground provide the easiest walk to the falls through the attractive landscape of tall Mountain Ash and tree ferns. The falls are most inspiring after rain when the swollen Sherbrooke Creek rushes over the rocks.
A man with an afro wearing a leather jacket and woman wearing a cream knitted jumper turn and walk away from a lake in the Dandenong Ranges Botanical Gardens.

Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden

The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden (formerly the National Rhododendron Garden) is host to brilliantly coloured blooms of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils. Seasonal changes ensure the gardens are a delight all year around.
Water cascades over Olinda Falls

Olinda-Falls

Starting at the Olinda Falls Picnic Ground, follow the Falls Track. After 300m, you will come to the top viewing platform across Olinda Creek as the steady flow of water cascades over the rocks. A further 140m leads to the lower viewing platform and a small bridge over the creek.
A woman walks along the boardwalk at Maits Rest in the Great Otway National Park.

Maits Rest

There is an easy self-guided circuit walk through ancient, cool temperate rainforest at Maits Rest. Maits Rest is renowned for its natural beauty and a must see destination.A wooden boardwalk has been built over the tree-fern gullies and moss covered roots, providing a unique view of the forest.
A couple follow a walking path through luscious rain-forest ferns.

Melba Gully

Melba Gully has prolific plant growth and is a dense rainforest of Myrtle Beech, Blackwood and Tree-ferns, with an understorey of low ferns and mosses. Perhaps the most unusual inhabitants of the area are the glow worms, which can be seen at night along the walking tracks.
A couple in their later twenties enjoy a joke while at their campsite at Lake Elizabeth Campground in the Great Otway National Park.

Lake Elizabeth Campground

Lake Elizabeth Campground is a dogs-on-lead camping area sheltered by tall eucalypt trees and nestled beside the Barwon River.
Beauchamp Falls, Great Otway National Park.

Otway Forest

The Forrest section of Great Otway National Park, along with Otway Forest Park, encompasses a stunning landscape including undulating plains and plateaus of the hinterlands and magnificent Mountain Ash forests.
Three friends follow the track alongside the Cumberland River near Lorne in the Great Otway National Park.

Cumberland Falls Walk

Explore the feeling of remoteness in one of the more beautiful river valleys in the Otway Ranges. Memories of dramatic cliffs, gentle streams and peaceful pools in which to cool off on a hot summer day will stay with you long after your visit.
Two women walk through ferns along the Shelly Harris Track in Kinglake National Park.

Kinglake National Park

Only 65 km north of Melbourne, Kinglake National Park lies on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, offering dramatic views of the Melbourne skyline, Port Phillip Bay, the Yarra Valley and across to the You Yangs.
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