By Jack Berning, Contributing blogger
Is there anything better than spending quality time in nature? Breathing in the fresh air, taking in the delicate sounds, smelling the earth… it’s a sacred experience.
Especially in the winter/spring of 2021, cabin fever is setting in for many of us. Science has proven that immersion in nature contributes to good health and overall well-being, so why not take advantage?
Combining the healing benefits of the natural world with a dedicated meditation practice can improve your mental health and help to center you through this turbulent time. In this guide, we’re giving 5 awesome ways to meditate through nature so that you can take advantage of all the great rewards that come with it.
Are you ready to get out and get centered?
Layer up and find your perfect place!
1. A Lens of Curiosity and Fascination
It’s no secret that the natural world provides us with wondrous intricacies that surprise us every time we step in. Meditation becomes much easier when we move outdoors and choose a meditation object, or something to meditate on, that ignites our inner curiosities and fascinations.
Dedicate 15-20 minutes to allow your meditation object to rouse your senses. Start with what you hear, then what you smell, then what you see, and finally, what you feel. This attention to what you feel is meditation itself. Try to set yourself free of directed, critical attention, and instead allow for simple, unabated curiosity.
Let the moment wash over you and see what comes up. As thoughts enter your mind, don’t feel the need to judge or evaluate them—just recognize them as something conjured by your meditation object.
2. Permitting Creativity
If you are first introducing yourself to the art of meditation, it can be helpful to introduce your own favorite art form into the practice. Whether you are most inclined to drawing, writing, or creating music, bring your art materials of choice out into nature with you and allow the inspiration to flow.
You don’t necessarily have to create around your meditation object or your surroundings. Let your mind make associations unabated—nature is there to be your instructor, not necessarily to be observed. Pack a bag with everything you’ll need and let your creative brain go to work! You might just walk out feeling energized and enlightened by the experience.
3. Intentional Walking
Walking meditation with a focus on sound is a great way to meditate outside and stay moving through the cold winter weather. Try to be intentional with every step. Pay attention to your feet’s contact with the earth as you mindfully advance on your walking meditation journey.
In regards to sound, do your best to take it in on a very conceptual level. Don’t try to identify the source of what you are hearing, but rather be satisfied with the mere privilege of experiencing it.
With meditation, attempts to define and understand are usually counterproductive. Walking meditation has been shown to light up your brain through movement, and allow you to put aside petty worries.
Walk however fast you like with whatever distance you are comfortable with. Just remember a pair of warm wool socks so that you aren’t distracted by cold feet.
4. Seated Meditation
If you find your mind can’t stop racing during a walking meditation, feel free to pull over and sit on the ground. Sitting on the ground through a natural meditation allows for our body’s rhythm to sync with that of the earth’s natural vibrations. When we are in tune with the earth in this way, the natural world that surrounds us is amplified. Our hearing is more precise and our skin receptors are more acutely responsive.
Deep wilderness is an especially rich place for a seated meditation. The total silence can be unsettling, which is important to recognize. Try sitting with that silence and knowing that it is just silence; there is nothing to evaluate. Be with the slow pattern of your breath and feel the powerful magnetism of our great planet.
5. Eyes Closed Meditation
Having your eyes closed in the natural world goes against some of our most basic human instincts. But if you can find a safe spot and trust your presence in the space, an eyes-closed meditation can be extremely enlightening.
Take a couple minutes to find and establish your breath. If this feels difficult, simply recognize that it is difficult; that doesn’t mean that you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at meditation. It just means you are learning. Bring your awareness to your surroundings and permit your mind to wander. Feel the cool winter air on your face. If there is sunlight, try to feel it as well. Let your attention find the symphony of nature. When we have our eyes open, sometimes it is difficult to actually see what is happening around us.
When our eyes are closed, on the other hand, our brains stop trying so hard to process our surroundings. Instead, we are permitted to feel the gentle yet massive powers of the natural world—and in turn—see ourselves in that cycle.
We hope that this guide was helpful for you as you make the most of the natural world this winter and early spring. Getting outside to meditate can change your mindset as we push through these strange days, and help you to feel more at peace. When you head out into nature to meditate, you always want to be as comfortable as possible. You are officially on your way to a night of zen.
Enjoy your sacred meditation!