Now that the sun has started to shine, the blue skies have arrived, and the air is fresh and warm, the outdoors are calling. For many, this might manifest in the form of moving their meditation practice outside. Not only do you get your daily dose of vitamin D, but there are many other positive side effects of meditating outside.
Many consider nature to be an environment or place of wisdom. As highlighted by psychotherapist, meditation teacher and author, Mark Coleman, many monasteries and meditation centres or retreats are often located close to – or even within – nature. Meditating in the wild is something that has long been practiced in Asia, the homeland of mediation. There is something inherently spiritual by connecting with yourself by also connecting to the world around you. Meditating outside grounds one in nature and connects you with the earth. It is easier to be aware of your position in the universe when the other (nonhuman) occupants surround you.
So, does outside meditating really offer that much more than indoors? According to meditation blogger, Dominic Reichl, there are some important distinctions. He notes that indoor meditation requires more mental toughness and is usually performed to build better focus, self-awareness, and willpower, whereas outdoor meditation requires more mental fluidity to enhance your openness, receptivity, and connection to earth. Outdoor meditation is often easier for beginners due to nature’s inherent calmness and the spiritual associations we tend to form regarding nature.
Nature is, for many people, a neutral space. It is difficult to attempt to reach inner peace when having to meditate in a stressful environment. For example, if you are stressed because of your home environment, this will be a significant barrier for trying to find peace when meditating in this same space. Similarly, you may share this space with family or friends, whose chattering may prove distracting.
“When we meditate in nature, we bring a receptive presence to the natural world. It comes alive – and so do we. We no longer look at nature as an inert or pretty object, but as a living and breathing world of mystery and sensitivity, a realm of wisdom and learning” – Mark Coleman
Top Tips for meditating outside:
- Use all of the techniques you are already familiar with; focus on your breathing, set your intention for the session, and place yourself in a quiet, distraction-free area.
- Perhaps start by focusing on a specific sound. Outside, this may be the quiet breath of a breeze brushing against the grass, the buzzing of a travelling bee, the lilting of birdsong. Once comfortable, awareness-of-sound meditation can be practiced.
- When you have focused your attention on a sound, turn inwards and focus on your internal rhythm. Allow your body to synchronise with the earth’s natural vibrations.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Yes, meditation is about letting go of your worries and separating from yourself for a moment. But nature is unpredictable. Meditating outside could leave you vulnerable to the elements. Regular check the local weather predications in the build up for when you are meditating, familiarise yourself with the area that you want to meditate in and read up on whether there is any wildlife that you should be aware of.
- If you find it uncomfortable sitting on the ground, take a look at meditation benches such as the Kindseat, a portable meditation bench designed for comfort and long-mediation sessions whether it be indoors or outside.