Updated: Sep 26
During a recent hour-long walk, I collected samples of eight different types of grasses along a roadside in Maryland. Some grasses were tall enough to brush the tips of my fingers as I walked, maintaining a rhythmic pace. Nature Informed therapists understand that even the most subtle somatic experience with the natural world, although seemingly insignificant, can restore calm to the human body. The impact on our mental health can be substantial.
Being outdoors or allowing fresh air into a secure place can also usher in calmness. Open a window, find a spot to sit outside, take a walk, or simply enjoy the daylight streaming through your window. Even the smallest moments of connection to nature contribute to wellness.
Walk / Find & Select / Outline in Sunlight / Reflect & Repeat
(a Nature Informed Art Therapy prompt to let go)
1. Take a Walk: Head outside to any area with plants, trees, or water (a city block, backyard, park, or roadside).
2. Look for Something: Anything found that resonates with you while walking on that day.
Bring the Object Home: If it does not disturb the landscape or cause harm, bring the object home with you.
2. Place the Object: Onto a clean white sheet of paper in direct sunlight, in any arrangement you wish.
3. Outline the Object with Its Shadow: Mark the day and this moment in time by outlining the silhouette of the object or plant with shadows. You may find you need to work quickly as the light shifts slowly.
4. Color the Outline: Once the outline is completed to your satisfaction, select any material you like to color or fill in the lines - graphite, pencil color, markers, watercolors, etc.
5. Notice Your Thoughts: While working (perhaps keep a journal of passing thoughts). Do any meanings or metaphors arise in your mind as you work quietly? If yes, jot them down, and allow the image to form with acceptance.
6. Reconsider Your Drawing: Consider going back to reconsider and work on the drawing in another sitting, perhaps redraw the object in another light. Notice and accept changes in your feelings and thoughts about the work. Notice how the light or object has changed.
7. Be Open to Changes: Be open to incorporating unexpected changes into the drawing. Simply notice and let them go – accept changes as they occur in the process without judgment.
8. Repeat the Process: When you feel the image is finished, and it resonates with you, take another walk and repeat the process.
“Do everything with a mind that lets go. If you let go a little, you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely, you will have complete peace.”
Ajahn Chah (With thanks to Rita Singer for sharing this quote.)
About the Author:
Renee VanderStelt is a dedicated art therapist passionate about providing holistic and person-centered care. Specializing in addressing depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma, her approach is rooted in solution-focused and strength-based strategies. Renee's sessions prioritize patient comfort and safety, creating a space for deeper reflection, processing, and self-understanding through art therapy. Her use of diverse materials not only aids immediate therapeutic contexts but also supports sustainable long-term self-care and health. Embark on a journey of healing and resilience with Renee, and explore the unique, empowering avenues of art therapy.