Group Dynamics Exercise in Nature
Any group that is meeting out in nature. Do the exercise in early afternoon or just before dusk.
If the group is a spiritual or religious group, then you may want to include words about God or their higher power or to make their experience about this.
1. To allow group participants to experience "nature" as being part of their world.
2. To help expand and integrate awareness of the wonders and beauty of the earth and our connectedness "in community" with it.
3. To provide a time for participants to let go of things they do not need in their life and find something new to bring into their lives.
It can be a time of joy or grief, depending on the person. Some people may want to exclude themselves from this experience. Encourage them to try it and give permission to stop.
Varies with size of the group and how the facilitator decides to do the exercise. 45 minutes minimum, 120 minutes maximum.
1. Introduction to the group. Tell the group how they are part of the world of nature.
Talk about some of the wonders and beauty of nature using your own experience. Bring in
ecology if you desire or if it has been talked about in the group.
2. Explain the purpose of the exercise is for them to find something new in nature that they can relate to either real or symbolically. This can be any thing they can see or feel, but the more specific the better, like a single flower or rock a branch from a tree, a cactus, water, a duck, etc. whatever they may find by just sitting on the ground and looking around or in the grass or under rocks, in the sky, etc..
3. A second or alternate purpose can be to find an object that represents something in your life that you need to "let go of" or "empty". Also, or in place of this, find an object in nature that represents something new you want to bring into your life.
For example, a milkweed pod full of seeds could represent both letting go and bringing in something new. A single seed, let go into the wind, could represent letting go of something in your life. Keeping a seed to plant can represent the planting something new in your life; it could be a new behavior or something else or just hope.
A second example could be a prickly cactus that may represent the part of your heart that is sometimes prickly, that you no longer need. Another could be a stone representing some part of your personality, etc..
4. Ask the group to go out into the nearby area for 30 - 45 minutes. Find a quiet spot by yourself. Sit. Look all around you. Look up and down and under whatever is close by. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? Narrow your vision down to your immediate area. Again what do you see, hear, or smell? Can you hear the wind? Can you feel it on your face? What does the wind represent to you? Same for sky, water, insects, rocks, etc. Touch some objects. Let your mind wander where ever it wants to go.
For example, if you are sitting in grass, part the grass with your fingers and look under the grass for what you can find. [You may find a whole village of insects you did not know was there.] Or perhaps you see some birds. Ask yourself, "How can I build a relationship with this bird right now? Can I understand it better? What would it be like for me to fly like they do? What does this experience mean to me? You can always hug a tree.
5. As another alternate, ask each person to write a short simple poem about their experience. And indicate they may share it with the group if desired.
6. Have them return to the group and share some part of the experience like: What was it like to build a relationship with nature? Have them read some of the poems. Talk about the object they want to let go of or bring into their lives.
7. An alternate to 6, or in addition to it: Have a ritual for letting go. Create a place to discard an item found in nature that represents something you want to empty yourself of so you can be in better relationship with yourself and others.
The facilitator can pick parts of this for the group to do. The group can use parts of it and still have a very successful experience. Remember it is to expand their awareness of building relationships everywhere and with every object on the earth and to allow something in nature to represent an object needing to be let go. Some few people may experience some form of grief in their experience. For example, I once saw a large bird flying over some water and that immediately took to memories of my father who had been dead for a number of years. It was sadness but also joy in remembering the good times we had together on the lakes.
The poem Letting Go may be used as a handout with this exercise. See it here.