Meditation to Connect With Nature
by Curt Remington
Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Many outdoor activities can also be a great form of meditation. What? you may think. Activity and meditating are opposites and certainly not related. Doesn’t meditating mean sitting still and blanking your mind? Maybe you don’t think that, but I used too. Actually, meditating means finding a single focus for your mind, to slow down all the other racing thoughts that may otherwise be there. That way you can attain relaxation and a deeper awareness. In other words, meditating makes you feel good. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there are lots of other health benefits too.
Okay, so what kind of outdoor activities could we consider a meditation? Falling into a rhythmic motion, and staying in the present, while you kayak, hike or climb can all be moving meditations, similar to walking a labyrinth. Sitting, or moving slowly through a forest, watching intently for wildlife can really make you feel a part of the habitat. I do this with my camera regularly.
Relaxing in a lounge chair, listening to ocean waves and letting go of other thoughts, is incredibly relaxing. There’s good reason people save for their beach vacations. Sitting on a mountaintop, looking out in awe at the scene before you is also a wonderful meditation. I realize that some of these activities aren’t very active, but it probably took some real activity to get to the mountaintop.
By practicing a few techniques, you can combine nature with meditation to make your time outdoors even better. On days that you can’t get out, visualization along with some of these same techniques, can help bring nature indoors and make your meditating even better. If you don’t already meditate, these techniques could be a great way to get started.
Natural Focal Points
As I mentioned earlier, meditating means finding a single focus for your mind, which allows your mind and body to relax, stay in the present and get more in touch with your surroundings. By paying close attention to your environment, you can find many things to focus on, like the examples below:
- A beautiful scene – Mountains and beaches are great, but it could be a gently waving cornfield.
- Water sounds, like a gurgling creek, rain or waves lapping at a boat or shore
Wind through the trees and the fresh air that it carries
- The dancing flames of a fire
- Bird sounds and their activity – Maybe consider a feeder or bath outside your window
- A rising or setting sun and its rapidly changing lighting
- Clouds, as they move across the sky in ever-changing shapes
If you live in the middle of a large city, you may even find man-made focal points that work well for you, like the hum of machinery, looking over a cityscape or the sounds of a busy park. Unfortunately, some city noises just aren’t as soothing as the sounds you would find in a remote wilderness. If you find the sounds distracting, take note of them, then let them go and tune-in to something else.
For those of you that are indoors today, you can relax and enjoy a similar state by tuning into a CD of waves, a gurgling creek or birds. You could even gaze at the flame in your fireplace, imagining an outdoor campfire, or at a scenic photograph, putting yourself in that environment.
Tune Into Nature Exercise
To put this into practice. Find a park, garden, forest or whatever, and make your way to a comfortable place to sit. For the first time, a quiet place without lots of passerbys would be good. If you can’t do this now, feel free to print this page, put it in your pocket and come back to this exercise later.
As you make your way to your place in nature, pay close attention to your surroundings. Are there unusual sounds or smells? What is the lighting like? Is it warm or cold? What kind of breeze? Are there interesting people or animals around you? What about patterns or interesting details?
Have you reached your destination? Okay, sit down and relax. Did you find something on the way to tune into? Is there a beautiful scene? Whatever it is, take note of it, and use it to gently focus on. If it’s a sound, you can close your eyes if you want. If you find that you’re thinking again, don’t be hard on yourself, but remember to come back to your original focus. Get a sense that you are indeed connected to all that is around you: the ground, trees, air, animals and any people too. Feel this connection, without giving it much thought. Do this for as long as seems comfortable.
On your way home, try to retain your calm state and stay alert to your surroundings, watching for whatever might catch your attention. It’s a great world we live in, but much of the time we are just too busy to notice.
Tuning into nature has all the usual benefits of meditation and helps you connect with your surroundings. For even greater benefit, you can intentionally take in and run the quantum energy in your surroundings, releasing blocks to your health, emotional and spiritual well being. My articles on grounding and running your energies cover specific meditations for moving quantum energy. This “tree meditation” is a simpler exercise for obtaining some of those same benefits.
If you have the chance, you can do this exercise in a park, woods or at the side of a hiking trail. Otherwise, it works fine in a comfortable chair at home, using your imagination to visualize the serene outdoor surroundings.
- Imagine a small creek, at the edge of a woods. You’re on a tree stump, sitting comfortably, listening to the creek and birds. The sun is on your face, warming and relaxing you.
- As you listen, you feel more a part of the natural scene, as you become almost a part of the stump. You can feel the energy of the tree that was once there. Your body feels connected, as if you’ve replaced the tree. Any tension and negative emotions sinks from your body, down through the trunk and into a very deep root extending towards the center of the Earth.
- Your feet and legs feel connected to the ground, and energy runs up through your feet, like the shallower roots that fed the tree.
- Golden sunlight, and the energy of the air, soak and pour in through your head, the way a tree absorbs sun through its leaves. Your arms and body are warmed by this light, like the branches of the tree.
- Feel the energy from the earth and the sky filling and moving through your body, rejuvenating and releasing blocks along the way. Any excess energy continues down through the stump and down the deep root where it’s released into the ground.
- Relax, and let the energy of the sky and earth continue to run.
- When you feel ready, take a few deep breaths and stretch, making your separation from the tree. As you get up, you will take some of this new energy with you, feeling more invigorated.
These techniques are a great way to start meditating or a great way to make your outdoor activities even better. When hiking or kayaking, my wife and I look forward to finding a secluded, scenic spot and practicing some of our meditation techniques, really taking in the energy of the place. I think you’ll find this to be a wonderful experience too.