Let Nature Be Your Muse
Creativity coach Annette Naber provides top tips on the creative life.
Posted March 9, 2021 | Reviewed by Chloe Williams
Great artists wax lyrical about nature and find nature valuable as muse and as emotional healer. Picasso wrote of going to the forests of Fontainebleau Palace and “gorging on green,” then rushing home to disgorge all that color. Van Gogh remarked that the genius of the Japanese painter was in his ability to quietly, patiently, and intensely study a single blade of grass. On balance, artists love nature; and in today’s post, creativity coach Annette Naber describes how nature can become your personal muse.
Most of us have had the experience of returning home from a walk in nature and feeling refreshed physically and a bit more whole and integrated than before we left for our walk. As "forest bathing" is becoming more of a mainstream term, we are learning about the distinct and desirable physical, emotional and immunological benefits of spending time with trees and plants. However, there’s more – nature can also inspire our creative juices. How? In the following ways.
1. Sensory Experience
One simple yet effective technique is to open up to our sensory experiences more fully and consciously while we are outside.
What do you see, I mean, really see? Colors, patterns, shapes, textures – look closely, stand still and look at one tree or a plant, study it as if you saw it for the first time and would have to describe it to a blind person or to someone from a treeless planet.
What do you hear? Nearby, or farther in the distance? How do sounds change as you move deeper into a stand of trees or come out of it?
What do you smell? Is there a scent of conifer needles, decomposing leaves on the ground, damp earth after the rain, spring blossoms, sewage water, dog poop?
What do you taste? The coffee you just drank, the meal you just ate, the air you are passing through, a blade of grass or blossom or berry you are nibbling on?
What do you feel on your skin? Even if you are bundled up in cold winter weather – what is the sensation of wind, temperature, sun, or moisture on your exposed face or hands? What do you feel through the soles of your shoes?
Really practice this, don’t just imagine it. Then write it all down while it is still fresh. Perhaps, it will help as an icebreaker for your writing, free up some blocked energy, or release some thoughts. Now you are here, in the moment, with your sensory impressions and not in the past regurgitating an argument or anxiously thinking about something that needs doing tomorrow. Here—now—in your body.
2. Found Object
A second way to inspire your creative imagination: You may be drawn to a small stone, a leaf, a blossom, or the way a certain tree leans into another or bends away from it. If you can’t bring the object home with you, you can always take a picture.
Then write about what this object evokes in you, what memories it brings, what it reminds you of in symbolic terms. A discarded snakeskin I once found hanging from a tree became the catalyst for much writing in the following weeks and then led to a profound insight that helped me re-arrange my life priorities to align more directly with my deepest values.
Maybe you can incorporate your insights into your novel or you can turn it into a poem. Or it might inspire your technical writing, a painting, or a teaching lesson. Nature can indeed become your muse. Even a dandelion breaking through the cracks on a city sidewalk can hold a creative message for you. Will you accept it and allow its tenacity and beauty to enrich your work?
You can learn more about Eric Maisel at www.ericmaisel.com.