Sometimes I sit by the fierce Brighton sea, feeling the waves lap up and listening to the wind howl, in the thick of winter. I’m not alone in getting nourishment from nature, as this article from The Atlantic suggests. It tells me I’m not the only professional prescribing spending time in nature either . My favorite biologist E.O. Wilson says that we’re hardwired to “affiliate with other forms of life” and that we suffer if we don’t.
So many of us practice meditation (see here for an Ultimate Guide to Mastering Meditation in 3-Minutes that I created for you), and I wonder if you’ve heard of leveling it up by combining it with the energy of nature. Or what I personally call, “ecotherapeutic meditation”. Here are three of my favorite methods that I’ve learned from different spiritual traditions. May it bring you joy, freedom and bliss.
The Zen monk from Plum Village said, “We forget we have a body”. Indeed, we live in our minds too much, the place where catastrophe has infinite space to play out, and deceive us that it’s real. We become disconnected from our bodies and the real life force that pumps through us and sustains us — our blood and pulse. I learned this Apache meditation from Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way In a Wild New World.
My favorite place to do this: By the sea or ocean
Have you ever walked past a big sturdy tree and marveled at how centered it is — connected to the sky and the earth — soaking in its energy and wisdom? The word that leaps out to be in my mind is ‘rooted’, and indeed, this meditation makes me precisely that. A shaman taught me this one when I was in the midst of healing from trauma, back when I was in a dangerous situation. My mind was frenetic and my body felt shattered, and this connected me back with my ability to draw healing from the present moment.
My favorite place to do this: In a park or forest.
When my friends and spiritual teachers Tay & Val introduced me to this one, I was sold. Breathing in through the soles of our feet, we create a sense of grounding with earth energy; and breathing in through the crown of our heads, we connect to the expansive energy of the sky. Or, as some may prefer to think — Mother Earth and Father Sky (/God/Source) respectively. To me, it is the perfect embodiment of the spiritual teaching, “As above, so below”. Tay & Val explain that “seedlings need to plant their roots deep into the ground, before they go up into the sky”. Or, in urban speak, “the taller your building, the deeper your foundations need to drive”. This meditation also nourishes the heart center — the part of our body that pumps nutrients and removes toxins.
My favorite place to do this: Anywhere where I need a break, with a piece of nature of next to me. It could be as simple as a fruit or a leaf, or a potted plant.
What’s your favorite meditation exercise that you do in nature? Leave a comment and share your experiences. Or, want to read and practice these exercises another time? Download the PDF Guide on Nature Meditation I made for you here.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on September 18, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com