From the book “Awake in the Wild” by Mark Coleman; adapted by Sara Overton. Coleman and Overton are collaborating on a mindfulness in nature art project, “The Awake in the Wild Experience.” (This meditation begins on page 18 of the book.)
Biting into a sweet summer strawberry is one of life’s great pleasures. Nature is full of such joys when we can open to them. Exploring mindfully helps us do just that. Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind to cultivate awareness, clarity and an array of positive qualities. The following is a meditation that can help bring mindfulness to your experience in nature. Ideally, find a quiet place in nature where you can connect to the earth. If you are indoors, you can adapt parts of this exercise using a houseplant.
The Meditation Begins
At first, walk around this place the way you normally might be in nature. Notice what it feels like in your body to be in a place while only casually connecting to it. Now, barefoot if possible, feel the weight of your body through your feet and toes. Let your feet sink into connecting with the earth, and pay attention to how it feels in each foot. Begin walking on the earth, and feel the tickling grasses warmed in the sun.
After some time, reach down and dig your hands into the earth. Feel the texture of the earth in your fingers—is it gritty, muddy, or silky? Notice how it smells. Allow yourself to play with the earth, grasses, and stones, as a child might play in a mud puddle or a sand box. Rub the earth on your skin.
Observe how it feels to engage or participate through the sense of touch and how that changes your relationship to this place.
Continue your slow walk, exploring the plant life around you. Try rubbing fragrant bay leaves or lavender or other flowers and leaves in the palm of your hands and inhaling their fragrance. Feel the roughness of the bark of an old tree trunk with your hands, fingers, and arms. Taste some wild, edible berries.
Sit down and open your awareness to sounds, letting your mind expand to the furthest sound, so your attention is receptive and open. Similarly, take some time to absorb this place with your eyes—not looking for anything in particular, just allowing whatever you see to touch you.
Take some time to sit quietly under a tree or bask in warm sunlight. Let your senses drift open and outward. Breathe through every pore of your skin and soak up the ambience, the cadence, and the spirit of this place. Feel into the fact that you are a part of this living, breathing ecosystem.
While you are feeling open in this place, be aware that you are in a relationship with all kinds of life forms — including grasses, insects, birds, or animals that sense your presence but remain invisible. As you feel, engage in a relationship with this place, be aware of any shifts in your body, your breath, your heart, and your mind.
Be mindful of a simple joy or sense of aliveness that may come with this intimate contact. Notice how it can deepen your sense of connectedness, intimacy, and interest.
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