Noticing nature

Intentions and notes

The intention for this group is to provide a fully experiential group involving the outdoors, to improve appreciation and a sense of belonging in the world. This is a lovely group to just allow people to experience whatever they experience, and to understand that this is what mindfulness is. It could even be split into two groups, one using the “sound map” and one using the “me map”. It can be a soothing group for if there have been difficulties in the group recently, or if you’ve picked up on a lot of striving in recent groups.

This is not included in the core groups, for a few reasons – you may not have access to nature in your setting and it’s not strictly teaching any core recovery skills, but it was on the cusp between core and not-core as it deals with striving so nicely. And even if you can’t access nature where you are, you could do a different first meditation and then the ‘me map’ wherever you are.

The meditation is a senses-based exercise, using all the senses – if you notice the sun on your face, bring this in, and if you notice a breeze on the skin then mention that. The idea is to help people to connect with present-moment experience in an embodied way, so the more genuine your guidance is, the more easily this will happen (as with all the mindfulness exercises!).

Both exercises involve the group needing to go off on their own and sit down, so sitting mats are helpful (little foldable ones are available online very cheaply – or just bits of cardboard would do). Do encourage people not to go off in pairs or groups – this is a solitary exercise. When sending them off, make sure they know to stay within eyesight (I find it helpful to have a volunteer help with this group for that reason, but that will depend on the setup of your organisation).

The maps can give people who struggle to sit quietly something to focus on while they are mindful, and a ‘task’ to complete, so can help to engage those who are not naturally attracted to mindfulness, and help them to notice either external or internal events.

Tell the group to reconvene at a set point when they hear the bell, and do a short inquiry. I’ve always found this group takes longer than I thought it would, with people really enjoying the opportunity to be with themselves, quietly in nature, and coming out of group feeling invigorated and calmed.


  • Download the group outline here.

You will also need

  • Blank paper
  • Coloured pens/pencils/crayons
  • clipboards/something to lean on
  • sitting mats

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