• Winter Storm’s Aftermath on the Beach


    Video Imagery and Guided Contemplation

    by Kristin Littel

    Because it fosters a sense of awe and can so easily activate the senses, nature provides an optimal setting to mindfully tap into and connect in the moment with joy, wonder, peace and wisdom.

    This curated photography video is a 3-minute visual nature feast of ocean meeting beach in the windy aftermath of a winter storm, on the southern-most tip of the New Jersey coast. The video features images from a walk I took on the beach from Cape May City to the Cape May Point Lighthouse and back. Light instrumental music accompanies this stunning photo-collection. (The photographs on this page were also taken during that walk.) The imagery and music in the video serve as the subject for this guided contemplation.

    Through the contemplation, you will engage with positive scenes in nature, which in turn will hopefully help you feel less stressed in the moment and heighten your sense of well-being.

    To contemplate upon the imagery in this video:

    • Find a quiet and comfortable spot to view the video.
    • Watch the video in full screen mode, if possible.
    • To aid in relaxing and focusing in on experiencing the imagery, take slow, deep breaths, in and out, as you watch the video.
    • If your mind wanders during the video, as the mind is prone to do, no problem. As you become aware that you are drifting, bring yourself back to the present moment. Deep breathing can help you get re-focused.
    • If you have another 3 minutes, you can repeat watching the video. The views never get old.

    The ocean can be beautifully harsh and then serenely restful–it changes from moment to moment, a million times over around the world. But the thing about it is, if you accept its full-bodied beauty and “ride its waves,” you start noticing and feel relaxed by the rhythmic nature of its surges that always lead to placid endings.

    Scan the images presented. Ask yourself:

    What sights strike or appeal to you? What about them stands out to you? 

    Imagine the sounds, the smells, the feel on your skin and the taste on your lips that go along with the sights that you see. 

    Describe to yourself, in as much detail as possible, the thoughts, feelings and sensations you are having/had related to the imagery. There is no wrong answer. Just descriptive adjectives will do. On the flip side, if you want to linger with the imagery, you can tap into your inner writer, poet or visual artist. (If you go that route, be compassionate with yourself. If your inner critic has something negative to say about the quality of your words or art, gently let it know that those comments are not welcome in this activity).

    I noticed, for instance:

    • The way the wild flung waves rolled, unrelentingly, with startling force to their upward spray and then a heavy terminal fall, as they pounded on top of other waves and the sand on the beach. It was a symphony of clashes, smashes, bangs and booms!
    • The rich tapestry woven across the skies, changing as the light shifted from afternoon into evening. The crisp white, blue and grey of the day, the purple and pink rising as the light waned, and the yellow, orange and red of the pending night.
    • The feel of the frigid cool on my skin, the wind and the sand whipping around me, the stickiness of the sea air on my face, the taste of salt and the briny smells of the ocean and marshes.

    If there are moments while viewing the video, or exploring your thoughts, feelings and sensations about to it, that you feel emotional unsafe (e.g., if it triggers a difficult memory for you), you can PAUSE, acknowledge the feeling and investigate it. Soothe yourself. Remind yourself the feeling will pass. Come back to this contemplation when you are ready.

    What else do/did you feel as the video progressed? What are/were the other sensations in the body?

    For example, after viewing the photos, I felt:

    • Immense gratitude to be a witness to this gift from nature.
    • Glad for having spent my time and energy engaged in this experience, with my partner by my side.
    • Physically tired, in a good way, by the walk’s end. Although the sun shone bright that day, the miles walked buffeted by cold, wind and sand wore me out.
    • A fleeting feeling of connecting with the divine, the mystery beyond, of being part of something wonderful and healing. It was a good feeling, a happy place.
    • Surprise at the abundance that nature offers us every day, if we stop and engage with it. Viewing the images of that day again made me step out of my moment-to-moment worries, stress and to-dos, and simply be with the awe and positive connection of it.

    Wrapping Up

    As you finish contemplating the video and its imagery, focus on cultivating loving kindness towards yourself and appreciation of nature, by repeating phrases such as:

    • May I joyfully connect with the earth around me
    • May I open to experiencing the rhythms of nature
    • May I find peace in witnessing nature’s wonders

    I hope you enjoyed this video’s imagery and contemplation and find it an aid in your self-care.

    Some Options

    While I like to view the video all the way through first, after that, I sometimes will go back and stop the video to look more at specific photographs. When I pause at a singular photo clip, it can more fully bring home to me the awesomeness of the nature on display.

    Free feel to return to the video anytime to re-experience its imagery and benefit from surrounding yourself with these inspiring beach moments. I also encourage you to get out directly in nature to revel in it first-hand, explore it, and be nurtured and be inspired by it.

    BONUS: Free downloadable PDF Guided Video Contemplation Instructions.

    Contact the Mindful Counseling Center for assistance in incorporating mindfulness practices into your life, as a tool to reduce stress and increase life satisfaction.