And why you should give it a go
Don’t you just love being out in nature? Taking a walk, having a picnic or even a wild swim can make you feel so much better about everything. It’s a real gift to have access to so much beautiful nature all over the country and even the world. If you have tried meditation before, or even if you haven’t, meditating outdoors can really help improve your practice and deepen the level of meditative state achieved.
Nature based meditation
It has been widely proven that meditating outdoors can have significant benefits on your physically as well as mental health. The connection that is built with nature helps reduce blood pressure, increase the production of dopamine and oxytocin; and a feeling of more energy. Participants feel more able to let go of their day to day worries and even their requirement for technology. They have a much better way to communicate through nature.
Have you ever wondered why most meditation retreats or temples where spiritualists live are in the mountains or a far flung valley or forest somewhere? Nature is believed to be where wisdom and learning is awakened and where people feel fully connected with the world around them and the understanding that it can provide. The founders of these centres of spiritual enlightenment understood that nature was a force they needed to draw on and how it could help them with their journeys and practice. In Asia, the ancient meditators believed that time spent in isolation in nature was conducive to improved mindfulness and better meditation practice. Many would travel to unmapped and completely isolated locations to spend time in deep contemplation of life and to look for answers to questions asked by all men.
A poem by 8th Century Chinese poet Wang Wei talks of a retreat to the mountain
My heart in middle age found the Way.
And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain.
When the spirit moves, I wander alone
Amid beauty that is all for me….
I will walk till the water checks my path,
Then sit and watch the rising clouds —
And some day meet an old wood-cutter
And talk and laugh and never return.
Since then people have continued to be drawn to nature to help with clarity of thought and “to get answers” when things are difficult. As a result of this, nature based meditation has become popular and effective when looking for support with mindfulness and mental wellbeing.
How best to practice nature based meditation
Most meditation or mindfulness techniques can be practiced outdoors. The basis of most practices is the awareness of breath. However, the inclusion of nature in the sessions enables the inclusion of walking meditations and listening to the sounds of nature which give a different focus for participants. Find your meditation space and return to it each time, you will find that you are able to reach the calmness meditation provides comes more quickly each time.
The sessions Wild Minds hold, in the beautiful woodland at Moira Furnace in Northwest Leicestershire; provide a varied backdrop to a number of different types of meditation. Our groups have undertaken visualisations, walking meditations, object focused meditations and barefoot walking.
However, meditating outdoors should not be undertaken lightly. Being outside does come with its risks; and anyone considering doing this themselves should make sure that they are aware of the area they are using and how they can keep themselves safe.
Can’t get out to nature at the moment?
If you can’t make it to the woodland, fields, riverside or beach; then try it in your garden, on your balcony or even the local park. You will have to account for the sounds of society, but this can even be a benefit and help focus and improve your practice and meditation achievements.
It’s never the wrong time to try meditation and there is always somewhere you can do it that provides a small connection to nature. Try it now, you’ll feel the benefits, we’re sure.