In Forest Bathing, by Dr. Qing Li, he discusses two ways that we pay attention. The first is voluntary, which we use when we are doing things requiring concentration like writing and email or driving a car.
He explains the other way we pay attention, “The second ‘involuntary’, sometimes called ‘soft fascination’, which I think is a lovely expression. Involuntary attention requires no mental effort, it just comes naturally. This is the kind of attention we use when wea rein nature. In nature, our minds are captured effortlessly by clouds and sunsets, but the movement of leaves in the breeze, by waterfalls and streams, by the sound of the birds or the whisper of the wind. These soothing sights and sounds give our mental resources a break. They allow our minds to wander and to reflect, and so restore our capacity to think more clearly.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.