5 Natural Landscapes That Are Perfect for Self-Reflection

When you’re surrounded by nature, moments of reflection happen effortlessly. Your mind can drift when you take time away from your daily responsibilities and retreat to the outdoors. You begin to listen to your thoughts and intuition.

Over the years, I’ve found that a variety of landscapes can lull me into a calm, introspective mood. I challenge you to get out of the house and into the sunshine — or moonlight — in one of these landscapes.

1. A Field of Wild Grasses

As a child, I’d lie down on the ground and dig my toes into the thick, lush orchard grass under our apple and cherry trees. The cool blades enveloped my feet as butterflies and bees floated overhead. Being supported by the earth, in stillness, and inhaling the sweet fruit scents was immediately comforting and prompted me to reflect on the joys in my life. You might be able to find a similar place in your own yard or the remote corner of a state park.

2. A Shoreline

Each time I make a visit to the coast, I seek out an unpopular beach, or a hiking trail that leads to an ocean overlook, and fill my lungs with the salty air. As I visually scan the span of water, I realize how minuscule I am compared to the world out there. The enormity of the scene helps me put things in perspective and process my feelings.

3. A Spring or Fall Forest

Following a trail deep into a dense grove of trees beyond the sounds of the city or nearby roads sets the scene for contemplation. As I move through this type of landscape, I become hyper-aware of my surroundings. I focus on the tiny wildflowers bursting through the soil, the snapping twigs beneath my shoes, or the musty scent of moss and decomposing leaves. I pay attention to which details capture my attention and linger in my thoughts.

4. A Desert

As a college student, I had the opportunity to drive into the Australian wilderness. In the comfort of a quiet car, I traversed endless kilometers of red, dusty desert. The simplicity of the scenery and the absence of sound clarified my thoughts. If you live in an area with a desert nearby, experience the isolation and tranquility. Sit on the warm ground, feel the grittiness between your fingers, and absorb the moment.

5. A Body of Water

As an Iowa girl, I spent many childhood afternoons near the Mississippi River reclining on an abandoned boat dock. The sun warmed my face as the rhythmic waves swayed the wooden structure. It reminded me of a baby being rocked and soothed. You can also experience this feeling by going solo canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, or kayaking on a nearby lake or river. As the flowing water relaxes you, listen to the ideas that surface.

Any landscapes that offer pleasant scenery, isolation from other humans, and a sense of peace can trigger moments of mindful reflection. It might be atop a windy hill with views of a bustling city below, or at the edge of a lake with a shiny, mirrorlike surface. Allow yourself to sink deep into these moments and learn about yourself.