The Nature of Mindfulness

I am passionate about helping children develop a lifelong connection to nature.  As a certified meditation and yoga instructor for 25-years,  I am fascinated with the power of the mind and the limitless potential of the human spirit.  Nature-based mindful meditation is a great way to to  connect children to themselves and the world around them. 

Nature provides us with limitless, enjoyable opportunities to focus and be absorbed in the moment, and offers countless ways to improve our minds.  By practicing mindfulness activities outside, children can enhance their focus, emotional regulation, empathy and happiness through connection with nature.



Meditation helps kids:

  • calm down
  •  relax
  •  focus
  •  listen
  • socialise
  • share
  • excel in all areas of learning (literacy, numeracy, science,  art)



The practices of mindfulness and meditation offer people of all ages an effective path to develop healthy responses to the chaotic world around them and often inside of them. The key benefit of meditation and mindfulness is developing self-knowledge, or learning about what’s going on inside. This positively influences student wellbeing, emotional intelligence and resilience. Other benefits include improved concentration, sharpened focusing abilities and simply being calm and still.

We are a culture increasingly becoming addicted to instant communication and ever-changing technologies. While technologies such as mobile phones bring wonderful opportunities, children are spending more and more time being passively engaged in these technologies rather than actively engaging in the world around them. This includes the natural world and our environment. There is growing concern about the lack of time young people spend in nature and the consequences of this disconnection as outlined by Planet Ark Environmental Foundation in their 904-982-5289 research.

For six years, I managed Australia’s largest nature-care and community engagement campaign for Planet Ark and spearheaded the research mentioned above, as well as  introducing nature-based mindfulness into Australian schools.

I partnered with award-winning curriculum writers at Cool Australia to create the Nature of Mindfulness series to celebrate Schools Tree Day. These lesson plans provide teachers with a range of activities that help their students concentrate, regulate their emotions, exercise empathy and experience happiness through connection with nature.  The resources were written by Janet Etty-Leal, a highly experienced educator and have been downloaded over 10,000 times by Australian educators.   The lessons are FREE  on the Cool Australia website It only takes a minute to register and you’ll have access to a tree-rific digital toolkit!


Nature of Mindfulness lessons are a great way to integrate outdoor learning, mindfulness and meditation into  daily teaching.


Ages 3 yrs – 5 yrs

This series of Early Years Learning Framework aligned lessons support Early Learning educators and are backed by scientific research. These lessons contain step-by-step instructions and scripts – all the tools educators need to feel supported and confident when guiding children in their mindfulness practice.

This suite of lessons allows you to explore mindfulness using nature as a stimulus. They are designed to help children to tune into each of their senses, their environment and their inner thoughts and feelings. Children develop skills in focus, attention, resilience, emotional intelligence and regulation of the body and emotions.

Nature of Mindfulness Lessons:

  • Utilising a ‘Breathing Buddy’ to calm and focus children on their breathing
  • Guided mediations for ‘smiling on the inside’
  • Using all five senses to explore an outside area
  • Using the premise of a superhero with superpowers as a means of focusing children on each of their senses


Ages 5 yrs – 11 yrs

These primary lessons were developed by renowned educator and designer of schools mindfulness programs, Janet Etty-Leal. She brings a world of practical experience to the lessons, which contain step-by-step instructions and scripts – all the tools teachers need to feel supported and confident when guiding students in their mindfulness practice.

There are a range of 2, 5, 15 and 60 minute activities for Year 5 & 6 teachers which cover the following Australian Curriculum outcomes for Health and Physical Education:

  • Plan and practise strategies to promote health, safety and well being
  • Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour and relationships
  • Investigate the role of preventive health in promoting and maintaining health, safety and well being for individuals and their communities
  • Explore how participation in outdoor activities supports personal and community health and well being and creates connections to the natural and built environment

Learning goals:

  • To develop natural body awareness.
  • To create enhanced focus and improved concentration.
  • To develop self-knowledge, empathy, emotional regulation and resilience.
  • To cultivate present moment awareness so that calm, considered and conscious choices can begin to replace impulsive, unconscious reactions.



The aim of these activities is to help students make sense of mindfulness by applying it to life. In the first activity students make a ‘States of Mind’ bottle, which when shaken symbolises the mind in both its messiness and when left to settle symbolises a mind at peace. In the second activity students take a Nature Awareness Walk, and in the third activity students find a Natural Mindful Talisman or Totem to aid them in their mindful practice.

Learning goals:

  • Create enhanced focus, emotional regulation, empathy and happiness through connection with nature
  • Cultive present moment awareness so that calm, considered and conscious choices can begin to replace impulsive, unconscious reactions
  • Provide hands-on contact with the natural world



(888) 248-8721

Be inspired by award-winning nature photographer @SteveParish breathtaking images and narratives regarding Australia’s striking natural environment and trees.  From the heart of our Red Centre, to our lush rainforests, Parish captures the true nature of our land and its people.

Be inspired!


#1 –  

Our life’s desires may offer many paths. When passion becomes the driver, it provides an intense motivational feeling which may ultimately lead us to a true life calling.


#2 –


Expressing empathy towards all living things means understanding and sharing their world. This selfless act enables us to learn more about our fellow humans and the wider natural world, and enhances our relationships.


#3 –

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By engaging all our senses, creativity allows us to transform the dreams and desires of our imagination, heart and soul into reality. It absorbs one’s entire focus until, at last, the imagined form emerges – a tangible representation of your soul.


#4 –

Scientific discoveries show how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them and share nutrients with those sick and struggling. We have much to learn about collaboration from our forests.
#5 –


The tension that accompanies determination may heighten awareness, sharpen the senses and foster creative thinking. The trick, then, is to make it work for you and not against you, guaranteeing to take you soaring to unimagined heights.



#6 –


This straggly Ghost Gum has seeded between what one could describe as a ‘rock and a hard place’, a metaphor for grit in the face of adversity. In life we all face challenges, it is how we choose to make the changes needed that ultimately test our inner commitment.


#7 –

Open yourself to the greater nature of life by feeling and empathising with the suffering of others. Move to action with an open heart and a positive vision. Be joyful and generous in your compassion.


#8 –

The only thing we can be sure of in life is that choice, challenge, and change will occur. However, living in the moment, strongly supported by a connection with nature, may fast track an exhilarating healing and balance in our lives.


#9 –

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As the owl focusses on its prey, our single-minded pursuit of the task at hand can help surmount barriers, break through fears to attain aspirations often well beyond our wildest dreams.


#10 –


If we all live in hope for the world in harmony it will come to pass; optimism has power over fear. Let’s all look on the bright side and begin to see the inherent goodness in nature and others around us. The future is ours to transform.


#11 –

We all encounter choices and challenges throughout our lives, often on a daily basis. How we make a choice or adapt to change is simpler when we enter a state of mindfulness. And, you may only need the sight of a distant tree to take you to the present moment.


#12 –

When a creative urge has emerged, been recognised and is activated, it gives us a reason for being. A propelling purpose for life can bring much happiness and fulfillment.


#13 –

Resilience provides the energy to fuel the drive to complete any creative venture. It is an intense feeling which will require adaptation and flexibility in the often challenging twists and turns of our daily lives.


#14 –

Through a state of stillness and solitude, clarity of mind can take us into a mindful state with ease. Before long the stresses of daily life seem trite when compared to the grandeur of nature prompting our imagination to run free. Then, in this peaceful place, inspiration takes shape.

#15 –

When we feel the sparkle of life is fading there is no better time to immerse oneself in the natural world. And, nothing puts the bounce in your step more than silver strands of running, spraying gushing water.


To view Its in our nature online photographic exhibition in its entirety, visit