The Benefits of Meditation Out of Doors
It’s summer. It’s warm and sunny. The blue skies and great outdoors are calling. And if you’re like me, you’re probably listening and more than ready to head outside! Maybe you’re heading outside to go swimming or wakeboarding or maybe just to lounge on the beach, cool drink in hand. Might we suggest that you also try meditating outdoors? Not only will you get your daily dose of Vitamin D from the sunshine, you’ll also enrich your meditation practice in a whole new way.
As shared by psychotherapist, author, and meditation teacher Mark Coleman in his article “Why Meditating In Nature Is Easier” (Yoga Journal, October 7, 2008), there’s a reason why monasteries and meditation centers are often located within the depths of forests and jungles. In his words, “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 that is always whispering its teachings to us”.
Coleman, who spent many years experimenting with outdoor meditation in the wilderness of Sierra Nevada, has discovered that meditating surrounded by the elements resulted in him feeling “more wakeful and alert and, at the same time, open, relaxed, and spacious.” There’s also a sense of deep calm that comes from fully embodying your senses while in nature. And in nature, the capacity to be present – also known as mindfulness – is easier to achieve “when we bring a contemplative attitude to being outdoors.” Ajahn Buddhadhasa, a renowned Thai forest meditation master, called this state in which our attention becomes more effortless, “natural Samadhi”. Our senses also become heightened as “the natural world entices our senses to wake up…our skin receptors enliven [and] our hearing becomes sharper”.
Because this state heightens our sensitivity, it can bring about a sense of wonder. In his article, Coleman shared the story of a woman in one of his classes who discovered, while meditating outdoors, that a spider had created a web between her fingers. The woman’s normal reaction of terror was instead replaced by a feeling of gratitude for being considered worthy of becoming part of nature.
Meditating outside can also:
- Be eco-friendly. When you meditate the sounds of nature replace any electronic background noise – CD player, MP3 player, radio.
- You’ll become grounded simply by the act of being outside. In an outside practice it is easier to consciously ground yourself in the present moment and into the earth.
- Match the rhythm of your body to that of the earth through the natural vibrations of the earth, especially when sitting on the ground.
- Balance the negative ions in your body as you make contact with the earth. When you sit on the ground you connect your body to unlimited numbers of negative ions which then flow through your body, helping to decrease inflammation as well as blood pressure.
As Coleman says, “Nature nourishes the soul, and the more present we can be to it, the deeper we can drink from her well and, refreshed, bring positive change into the world.”
Here is a great walking meditation that you can easily do outside in your neighborhood or at your local park..
To your inner peace – Anna
Coleman, Mark. “Why Meditating In Nature Is Easier | Outdoors Meditation for Beginners.” Yoga Journal. N.p., 07 Oct. 2008. Web. 30 June 2016.
Scammell, Taryn. “Spring Is Coming: 6 Benefits to Meditating Outside.” Elephant Journal. N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 30 June 2016.