Picture yourself, walking through the woods or along the shore of Lake Michigan. What do you notice? Maybe you see birds flying overhead, waves crashing on the beach or trees with new buds as a sign of spring. Most people take in their surroundings through their sense of sight as humans are vision-centric beings.
Dr. Sharon Gill, professor of biological sciences at Western Michigan University, has created a soundwalk through nature to get others to focus on the natural sounds rather than the sights around them.
“Focusing on natural sound not only opens your ears to the world around you, it also helps close your ears to the inner chatter that often fuels negative feelings and behavior,” says Gill. “Truly hearing your environment in one of the most effective ways to ground yourself while also connecting with the world around you.”
The soundwalk podcast leads participants through a series of exercises, helping train those listening to tune into nature. Given the current climate as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it may be more important than ever to reconnect with nature and learn to find your inner balance.
For the birds
Gill is also an avid bird watcher and says that is another great way to find a connection to nature.
“The value of coming out in nature is to get away from all of the typical things that you’re worrying about in your day,” says Gill. “It can give you an amazing sense of peace and also connectedness to something bigger than ourselves.”
Roughly 450 bird species have a home in Michigan, with many species migrating back to the area after the long winter. All you need is a sense of adventure and quiet observation to participate in this daily show.