Mindfulness by Mark Williams & Danny Penman
If you are curious about mindfulness but not really sure what exactly it is or where to start, this is a great introduction. This is basically an 8-week mindfulness class in a book, explaining the different types of mindfulness, why it works, and how to practice it throughout your day. Mindfulness is not just about meditating, its about being deliberate with your actions and paying attention to how they make you feel. It’s all about living in the present and having gratitude. I love the “habit-releasers” assigned weekly that encourage you to change up your daily routines to gain a different perspective. The book provides a link to download audio files of the meditations in the book to guide you along.
Step Into Nature by Patrice Vecchione
Poet and teacher, Patrice Vecchione, takes you on an adventure of creativity, imagination, and inspiration with her stories of exploring around her hometown of Monterey. She encourages her students and readers to approach nature with new eyes and ask inspiring questions. The book is sprinkled with little prompts to spark your creativity. These can be used for inspiration for your art, or it can just be a way to perform mindfulness on your next outing. One of my favorites is, “imagine ‘translating’ a conversation between two parts of nature- between a tree and its leaves, the mountain lion and her cub, the rain and the soil. Or a conversation between you and a part of the natural world.”
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
After a chronic illness bounds Bailey bedridden, a friend brings her some violets and a woodland snail. She appreciates the live plant as something she can care for and prefers it over cut flowers, but she wasn’t sure what to make of the snail. But as it took up residence on her bedside table, she quickly became enamored with the little gastropod and eagerly awaited its next move. Bailey then spent her time diving deep into the science and behavior of her little friend and found a bit of joy in her days. This quiet and beautiful rumination on the life of a snail reminds us of what there is to discover when we slow down and observe.
Settled in the Wild by Susan Hand Shetterly
After growing up in the suburbs, Shetterly, along with her husband and her infant son, moved to a cabin outside of a neighborhood in Maine with no electricity or plumbing. The essays in this book focus on her observations of how nature, animals, and humans coexist and influence each other on the outskirts of town. She shares stories of discovering insects with her son, rescuing a bird, and the paving of a beloved dirt road. She speaks of resilience but issues a word of caution in our changing landscapes. Like other books in this post, this book illuminates the wonder of observing our surroundings.
Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore
After the deaths of several loved ones in quick succession, Moore seeks out the solace and healing powers of nature. Her sense of calm and meditation is palpable in her stories of solitary walks in the forest, canoeing in the snow, wading among migrating salmon in the dark, and cooking breakfast in the desert. Moore has the ability to paint a picture with her words and has ingrained her stories into my mind that I will recall for time to come. Moore’s powerful introspection puts her solidly in the ranks of Annie Dillard and Rachel Carson. Solace can be found in nature, but also in the comfort of Moore’s words.
See also: Mindful Birthing