Pattern awareness

Early humans saw order and cycles in nature and this inspired myths and spiritual practices that made sense of these patterns. The patterns of the seasons, movement of stars, and the accompanying myths gave rhythm and meaning to their lives. Similarly, we find meaning and awe in our world through its many patterns, and we now have a sophisticated science that is ever finding simpler and more powerful explanations. Awareness of life patterns nurtures our mind and spirit. Looking deeply at patterns can be a meditative and spiritual as well as scientific endeavor. We include several awareness meditations and fun activities to stimulate pattern awareness and foster mindfulness.

Categories of activities: Spirals (including painting cones, coloring book), spots and stripes (including two art activities), bubbles & bees, changing feelings, walking patterns, fractal patterns (including leaf rubbings), neighbots, birds-eye-view (community pattern visioning exercises), energy patterns (including Lego chemistry), pendulum patterns, and seasonal cycles. Below are a few highlights.

Bubbles, bees and trees
Cut a cardboard tube (the kind inside a tissue roll or paper towel roll) into slices (about a quarter inch to half inch). Tape them together (roughly as in image below). Try shaping them into squares or hexagons. Compare the different shapes. Compare the cardboard used up in the different designs. Which shapes can use the least cardboard? Which shapes can contain the most material for the least amount of cardboard? You could eliminate double walls, in the case of the hexagons and squares. Which shapes would contain the most honey? A simple way to tell is to fill them up with beads, then count the beads.
Fractal patterns
Patterns repeated across scale are fractals. These often stem from code repeating a simple pattern of action, such as a pathway splitting into two. Nature uses such simple repeated code to optimize. Paths with fractal patterns optimize delivery of nutrients with minimal cost, as seen in plants, lungs and arteries. Engineers are learning to emulate such optimizing patterns.
Look for such patterns everywhere. You will find many examples on a simple nature walk. Just as many examples are hidden inside your bodies, for example your lungs and blood system. You will most likely find fractals in nature, especially outside in the plant world.  Look carefully at the veins of leaves. Place a sheet of paper over a leaf, with the bumpier side of the leave veins facing up. Rub crayons over top to create a snapshot of the vein patterns. They branch like a tree, fractal-like. The smallest veins patterns are much like the larger vein patterns. Look at the tree branches to see a larger scale fractal branching patterns.

Participate in nature’s patterns

Try our Patterning Spirals: Coloring Book with Two Meditations and Illustrated “Science of Floral Spiraling.” The two meditations and the coloring promote awareness of symmetrical patterns in nature. Also, try our pine cone painting activity. For computer modeling of spirals, see our page dedicated to spirals.