Discovering Details in the Forest: A Zen Meditation Practice

close up of a lily flower

Can you see the tiny specs of yellow pollen inside this lily?

Last weekend I examined an oak leaf.

I took note of the curvy bumps and valleys circling the perimeter of the foliage. In the center, veins sprawled like a spider web, each tiny trough shuttling water and nutrients to various corners of the leaf. For such a small object, it was quite complex.

This observation was part of a zen meditation gathering I attended at a local park.

We engaged in forest bathing and practiced using our visual skills to see beyond what we usually notice with our quick scans of the world. On a hike we see trees, and perhaps the colors of the leaves at a glance, but how often do you look intensely at the minute details?

Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela

As I practiced my visual skills it dawned on me that every time I use a macro lens or zoom feature on my camera to photograph the subtle details around me, I’m also engaging in that meditative experience. Maybe it’s why I enjoy photography so much.

thistle plant

Have you ever paused to look closely at the flowering part of a thistle weed?

In the Zen meditation class, I learned that by slowing down and observing the world around us in as much detail as we possibly can, our overstimulated nervous system gets a chance to relax. Our mood improves. Physical health balances.

The tip that stood out to me most was learning that this keen sense of observation also disengages the fight-or-flight response. In turn, our bodies can rest and heal.

Some of the best moments of my day occur when I’m walking in nature and pause to get a close-up shot of something I adore, usually flowers, tree bark or wildlife. For a few seconds, I focus all of my visual skills on that object, admiring the intricacies that make it incredible. Then, I snap a picture so I can enjoy the moment again and again.

How often do you take a closer look at the world around you? Can you go a layer deeper? Try sitting in the forest and examining one object with precision. What do you notice that you’ve never paid attention to before?

And, maybe you’ll want to snap a photo of it too.

Until next time,
Choose healthy!

PS: Visit me on Facebook at Cupcakes and Yoga Pants!

Do you find value in my posts? Show your gratitude by sharing an herbal coffee with me! Thank you!

Buy Me a Coffee at



Comment Using Facebook



  1. Vanessa says:

    You write so beautifully, it made me feel like I was there too, witnessing the details of that leaf. I have the exact same experience when I go for a walk. I might stop several times just to take a picture of flowers, trees… Your post made me recall how it is important for my well-being too and how I should do a conscious effort of embracing mindful photography again. Thank you for the inspiration and healing, Angela. Loved reading your post.

    • Angela Tague says:

      Thanks so much, Vanessa! I’m glad this post spoke to you and served as a reminder of the healing that happens in the forest, especially behind a camera lens! ~ Angela

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.