Outdoor Meditation

It has been said that formal meditation is the act of listening to the Universe. Why not enhance the meditation by moving from indoors to the outdoors?

Outdoor meditation feels natural when the weather is pleasant. A casual stroll through the park while observing plant and animal life sets the tone. I don’t try to remember the names of the plants and animals or the other things I see. Silent, mindful observation brings about a feeling of unity with nature.
Outdoor meditation during misty, cloudy weather shifts consciousness to include observation of the atmosphere, dampness, and opinions about the weather. Walking meditation during a rain or snow shower shifts mental point of view to other interesting observations. (I do not recommend outdoor meditation during severe storm activity.)

When we ponder the ancient roots of formal meditation, we note that the accomplished sages and seers practiced isolation in the wilderness. Many of them retreated to mountain dwellings or caves in order to increase their mindfulness practice. There are many sacred texts, poems, and other writings that record such practices in the East and the West. Native cultures in Africa, the Americas, and Oceania included outdoor contemplative and meditative practices in accord with their cultural norms. In most instances, people believed that solitary communing with nature or sacred lands was a holy practice.

You do not need special titles nor belong to any particular hierarchy nor religion in order to benefit from outdoor or indoor meditation. In fact, it may be more beneficial to not have any rank or reputation as a meditation expert when engaging in meditation because titles can keep you in a mental, egocentric box. Meditation is deepest when concepts and beliefs of status do not matter.

If you are already familiar with meditation techniques, you know that most techniques can be practiced both indoors and outdoors. Aside from walking meditation, you can practice breathing awareness practice, focusing on sights meditation, and focusing on sounds meditation.

When engaging in any of these techniques avoid judging what you observe. For example, when focusing on sound, do not try to determine the source of the sounds nor judge whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. If a loud truck is heard; it is not a good sound, a bad sound, or the sound of a Ford truck–it’s just another sound to hear and let go of. Practice of sounds awareness helps us realize our subtle judgements about sound and noise. The outdoors provide more sounds to hear than indoors.

While outdoors, it’s important not to get caught up in fantasies of “la la land”. Although the natural world can provide beauty and inspiration, it also includes pitfalls and dangers. Before heading out to the park or wherever, check the weather forecast so you’ll know if you will need special protective clothes or gear. Be familiar with the types of wildlife in the vicinity–bears, mountain lions, poisonous snakes, and poisonous plants will not enhance your meditation. You may need insect repellent and sunscreen, depending upon where you go.

Although we commonly think of outdoor meditation as taking place at a scenic beach, a peaceful wooded path, or a retreat venue, most of us do not have regular access to such places. You can take in your back yard or neighborhood. A city park might be an ideal place for your outdoor meditation. So, although a calming walk along an ocean beach with a dramatic sunset as a backdrop would be great, you don’t need this stereotypical environment in order to have a satisfying meditation experience.

Ciao
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Voltaire. “Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”  

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, cultural highlights, philosophy, religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Outdoor Meditation

  1. Eva Hnizdo says:

    Hmmm. Why it’s it meditation and not just a relaxing solitary walk? What is the difference? And I smiled reading about the wildlife. Mountain lions, bears, rattlesnakes’… For a European it’s pure Americana . Wild pig is the most dangerous animal I can think of that I could meet, and that is in Czechia , in England it might be a deer. Thanks for the inspiration. Going for a walk.

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