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Natures beauty can save the world.

We had been walking slowly through the forest when we arrived on the river bank. the smell of the river made me drift off into my memory bank to a time when I played here as a child, then suddenly my hazy daydream was abruptly interrupted, "Did you see it? Look there it goes, a Kingfisher!"

I just caught the final flash of azure blue as this elusive river bird disappeared into the distance. Only a minority of the group had seen the bird and an unwelcome sense of disappointment suddenly accompanied us, "it's such a beautiful bird, I just really want to see it", remarked a participant.

We continued walking.

As I slowly ambled along my attention was drawn to a tiny beam of light that was shining on a decaying beech leaf hanging from a broken twig. It wasn't a kingfisher, yet it was no less beautiful. then I noticed the bark of a sycamore tree, its swirls mesmerising to the eye, like a map to a long forgotten magical land, it was totally beautiful. I took a deep breath and gazed into the distance and was reminded of the ubiquity of beauty in nature.

Every emerging leaf, dancing light, bright flower, simple thread of silk, glimmering drop of dew, scent of fresh cut grass and melodic sound of birdsong emit their own beauty, but the ubiquitous nature of these everyday happenings can easily consign them to the plain and ordinary if we don't take time to stop, notice and appreciate.

Photo by Kyle Bushnell on Unsplash

We gathered together as a group and I Invited everybody to spend the next 20 minutes searching for something beautiful that they had never noticed before. Wrinkled brows looked back at me as if questioning that this was even possible. I offered eyeglasses as a gateway to the micro world, then I sat and waited.

Many philosophers have described beauty as an expression of harmony and unity between two dissimilar objects. Take the decaying beech leaf and the bright life affirming sunlight for example, both different in appearance and meaning yet when they coalesced in that single moment I recognised something beautiful.

People returned to the glade carrying items in their hands, the sense of disappointment had made a swift departure. One participant was desperate to share what she had found. Bursting with excitement she held up a leaf from a bracken fern. "have you seen this?", she asked hurriedly. I didn't want to spoil the moment, but I knew what was coming and it was beautiful. Beneath the fern were between seven and ten tiny little 'dots' covering each leaflet like a magical mosaic. "I can't believe I have got to my age and never seen this. Wait until I go home and tell my kids, they'll never walk past one again", she continued, her voice filled with joy and excitement.

Every single participant had found an item of beauty that they had never noticed before, in a small glade in a local forest, it had stirred up feelings of joy, amazement and excitement, all linked to improved happiness and wellbeing. However, the benefits of finding and noticing beauty in nature continue well beyond our own wellbeing. Recent research carried out by Rhett Diessner and

Ryan M. Niemiec in the journal Ecopsychology uncovered the true potential of recognising beauty in Nature: in a study of almost 15,000 people those who noticed beauty in nature were more likely to develop positive environmental behaviours such as conservation, recycling, planting and other positive actions to protect the environment. Also included in the study was a 'learning about nature' and 'showing gratitude' toward nature, however noticing beauty in nature was more effective than both. So the next time you are out in nature try to resist the urge to name an item or learn about it, instead immerse yourself in it's beauty and it just might save the world.

Noticing beauty in nature is one of the five pathways to nature connection. You can learn more about them in a previous edition of this blog.

If you'd like to join Danny on a Forest Bathing guided walk you can check out his upcoming events at

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