Why Meditating Outdoors Makes a Difference
Meditation provides an escape for your mind to take a break from those constant thoughts, and shift its focus to your body and its surroundings. Turns out, those surroundings are important in relation to the kind of results you receive.
Some need total silence to meditate, others are able to tune in without needing any specific environment. Whatever your preference, take note on the adjustment of meditating in nature versus inside or around a busy area.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to alleviate stress, anxiety and sleeping disorders. Taking fifteen minutes a day to draw your attention on what’s going on internally makes a huge difference and has been said to even help your body recuperate from lack of sleep. Taking a look at the five senses, let’s compare how they’re each affected when meditating in a nature-filled environment versus an indoor room:
The first step in meditation is finding an area of preference, sitting in a comfortable seated position, and then taking note of your surroundings through sight. Looking around without particularly paying any special interest to one particular thing or another, you get a sense for the way the environment feels around you. Not how you feel by yourself just yet (your thoughts and body behavior), just how your surroundings feel… or better yet, how they affect you and how they start to make you feel. Once you soak in your surroundings, you then close your eyes and begin.
I feel like those short moments are very encouraging to the way your meditation session is going to go. If you are in a park seeing beautiful green grass and trees, watching birds fly past… maybe even watching ducks swim on water, you take a breath. You relax. Everything is good and peaceful, as it should be. Now you can close your eyes and focus on creating that peace within.
If you are indoors, taking those first moments to absorb your setting, you see walls. Sometimes you see artificial light coming from fluorescent light bulbs. You see furniture and, especially if it’s your home or at the office, you see things that need to be done or that you ‘should be’ doing. It’s not the best escape for your mind, it’s almost forceful that you have to make yourself take a mental break from what’s around you. Being indoors is confining to the body and mind’s freedom, you should have no containment around you when meditating.
With your eyes closed, you then listen. Every little sound around you is made into a mental note. You let each sound become present without it affecting you or changing your current mental state. This is the reason most of you who meditate prefer complete silence.
However, you need sound when meditating. Not noise, but sound...outdoor sounds to be precise. Birds tweeting, wind blowing through the trees, water trickling or flowing, bees buzzing...all of these are natural soothing sounds, used in sleeping machines and relaxing music. They are all there for a reason… they have a great affect on the mind. Listening to your surroundings when it an outdoor natural environment sets the mood for your mind. It allows you to relax and enjoy what’s going on around you without escaping the present.
Indoors, you may not get a lot of sound, or if you do it could just be noise. The ice maker in the fridge, the coffee machine brewing coffee, even the television running in the background are all unnatural noises that stimulate the mind differently than the sounds of nature.
If you are meditating in a special closed off room without any sound, that could also stimulate the mind negatively. No noise or sound creates the space for your mind to fill the lack of distractions with thoughts. Overthinking is a reason most meditate in the first place, so it would be counter productive to put yourself in an environment without any mental escape at all.
Although you don’t spend too much time worrying about what smells are around you, this would definitely affect your experience. Clean air has always been what mankind has strived for indoors. Using various technology or special air filters, clean air makes a huge difference in how our bodies run and feel. Sleeping in a room that has mold issues or a dirty air filter can impair the amount or quality of sleep a person can get. The better your lungs can work, the better your body and mind can too.
Now we both know this is the last sense to worry about when meditating, as I don’t think you’ll be eating anything while your mind pays attention to the body. However, taste and smell go hand-in-hand, as they do meet up internally within your mouth and throat. Yes, we can and do taste the air around us. The combination of taste and smell creates the flavor of our food. So what does it to do for our air?
Making sure you’re comfortable is key to getting a good session in. That isn’t just where you’re sitting though, it’s how you’re sitting and how your surroundings inevitably make your body feel. Being indoors in a cozy chair or couch is always inviting, but it’s not the best for your posture when meditating. You want an environment that draws your attention away from needing to reposition or adjust yourself. Sitting indian-style in the grass or on a yoga mat creates not only a comfortable setting, but a great connection as well.
Sitting in nature for a few minutes a day really does make a difference. In fact, it has been studied to cure depression. Whether you’re meditating or not, the act itself is extremely good for the body, mind and soul… I mean these are the natural settings we were intended to live in. Everything manmade structure is unnatural and can become a stress or anxiety-causing trigger. Meditating outdoors makes a significant difference in the results you’ll receive when opening your eyes again from that last deep breath in and exhale out.