Five steps into the woods and I feel the shift. My body begins to move to a different rhythm. My senses sharpen, my heart slows. It is in nature that I feel most empty and most full, like everything and nothing, connected to all life. In our “busy” addicted world, people often rush to the end point just to then start the next thing. Even when hiking, people rush to the view or the waterfall or whatever they have determined is their hiking “reward”. Slowing down, really noticing my surroundings, immersing myself using all my senses while out in nature truly is magical. This mindful approach to being in nature allows me to notice whole worlds of others just rush by.
Have you ever tried nature mediation? Nature meditations are an amazing way to connect with the elements and practice presence. Sitting outside for five minutes and focusing in on the sound of the birds chirping totally counts as a meditation. There are many benefits of meditation in nature—it’s a place where wisdom and perception come alive. Meditating outdoors activates our senses, making our practice more alert and wakeful. At the same time, the usual distractions seem far away and somehow less important. When we sit on the ground during our nature meditations, our body’s rhythm synchronizes with the earth’s natural vibrations. This harmony greatly enhances the experience of meditation. It may seem that our senses are heightened – our hearing feels sharper and our skin receptors feel more sensitive. In fact, it’s the lack of ambient busy-ness and the sense of well-being that allow us to be more in sync with our senses than usual.
Meditation is simpler (and harder) than most people think. Read these steps, make sure you’re somewhere where you can relax into this process, set a timer, and give it a shot:
1) Take a seat Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. 2) Set a time limit If you’re just beginning, choose a short time such as five or 10 minutes. 3) Notice your body You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable, and, in a position, you can stay in for a while. 4) Feel your breath Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. 5) Notice when your mind has wandered When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath. 6) Close with kindness Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions. That’s it! That’s the practice. You focus your attention, your mind wanders, you bring it back, and you try to do it as kindly as possible (as many times as you need to).
Relaxing this summer