Six years ago, I travelled over 4000 kilometres to study advanced nature awareness strategies with some of the best naturalists in the modern world.
I was lucky to have amazing mentors in my life who helped me reach my goals, but I also know that many people didn’t have this benefit.
So in a world where genuine mentors of tracking & awareness are sparsely available, how can you start to feel more tuned into nature?
Well, today I want to share an easy strategy that will help you be your own mentor – by asking yourself questions that direct your awareness towards nature on multiple levels.
Because human beings are conditioned to search for answers!
Whenever someone asks a question, the human brain lights up and goes in search of the answer.
By asking some good questions, you can direct your mind towards deeper awareness of nature.
Here are six nature awareness questions that will help you feel more tuned in with the natural world:
1. What am I seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling & tasting?
Nature is first and foremost a sensory experience, but many people are too caught up in their thoughts to notice.
This first question will help you focus on what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling in the world around you.
It’s really very simple to get out of your head and wake up to what’s happening around you.
All you have to do is ask yourself, What am I seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling & tasting right now?
- Listen to the wind in the trees
- Look for how many different shades of green you can find
- Take in a deep breath & try to detect any scents in the air
As soon as you ask the question, ‘what am I hearing right now?’ immediately your brain goes searching for an answer.
The same is true for all your five senses.
2. Where am I feeling drawn to explore?
One of the BIG secrets to accelerated nature discovery is to follow your curiosity.
Curiosity is like an endless source of renewable energy that will activate your naturalist mind and help you to recall your outdoor experiences with vivid clarity.
How does this work on a practical level?
Simply explore where you feel drawn to go. Look around and ask yourself,
- What parts of the landscape have the most appeal to me?
- Am I feeling drawn to wander?
- Am I feeling drawn to sit down and watch the sunset?
- What makes me curious here?
You can do this just as easily in massive wilderness areas as in a tiny ten foot backyard.
The trick is to keep looking closer until you find something that makes you say wow!
3. What can I observe about the trees & other vegetation patterns?
It’s always a good idea to take a few moments and look around at the local vegetation.
Don’t worry if you aren’t able to identify everything that you see. Identification is just one part of being tuned in.
Simply notice whatever you can about the plants, trees, shrubs and flowers around you.
- Are you in a forest with trees? How tall are they? How thick are they? Do they all look like the same type, or are there many different types?
- Are you in a meadow?
- How do the plants change at the edge of the forest?
- How many different flowers can you find?
Even if you don’t gain any epic insights – asking this question will ensure that you take the time to look at the plants and trees around you.
It’s all about taking the time to look more closely than you would otherwise.
Ask these questions every time you go outside and watch your landscape awareness grow like bamboo!
4. What’s happening here seasonally?
Another thing to watch for on your outdoor adventures are any changes that might be happening in nature on a seasonal level.
I’m sometimes amazed by how much can change in a landscape with only a few days of passing time.
Flowers start blooming while others go to seed, rain slows down in summer and the ground becomes dry and crispy.
- How much of what I’m seeing here is related to seasonal changes?
- If I were to come back in 3 months time would the water levels in the creek be different?
- What would be different about the insects?
If you look closely – I bet you can find at least 10 signs of seasonal changes every time you go outside.
5. What’s happening with the birds right now?
Another important layer to track out in nature is what’s going on with the birds. Birds can tell you so much about what’s happening out in nature.
Every day they interact with food sources, they struggle to raise their families and escape the constant threat of hawks & other enemies – and it all happens right before your eyes anytime you step out the front door (who needs television when you have birds!)
This video shares some of the things I find amazing about bird language:
Birds are exciting because they move around and interact with their surroundings and yet they’re not elusive like most ground mammals.
So the next time you go outside, look around for any birds in the area.
- What are they doing?
- Are they feeding on the ground?
- Are they flying in different directions?
- Are they singing or calling?
- Are they on alert for local predators?
Don’t worry if you can’t make sense of it all yet. The important thing is just to start looking. And remember to check out my other articles about bird language if you want to learn more.
6. How am I having an impact here?
Whenever you go outside into nature there is always a response to your presence.
Birds will change their feeding & flight patterns.
Squirrels will move up into the trees.
Cats will sit and watch from a hidden place to avoid your detection.
Even the ground beneath your feet will leave evidence of your passing. Your footfalls might be trampling young plants & herbs or compressing the soil and leaving tracks in the mulch.
Your presence on the land always has an impact… the only question is whether or not you can notice it, so pay attention!
- How is my presence here affecting the birds and animals that live amongst these trees?
- How is my presence affecting the insects, plant life and soil conditions?
With practice you can also learn to reduce your impact by moving more consciously and not invading the personal space of wild animals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you notice that many creatures are still scared of you. It’s just part of being human.
Here’s a video I made about how questions make you better at tracking & nature awareness…
Other Questions To Ask About Nature:
There are literally hundreds of other great questions you could ask about everything from the weather to the moon phases that will help you tune you in more deeply with nature.
These are just six of my favourites that will get you started on the right foot.
If you want more then check out my awaken your naturalist intelligence audio learning program.
With practice and repetition these questions will become a habitual part of how you pay attention to your wilderness surroundings – and that’s when your relationship to nature will be completely transformed.
I’d also love to hear what questions are helping you cultivate deep nature awareness in your area.
So now it’s your turn!
What questions work for you? Let me know in the comments!