Is outside meditation a good idea?
In a word: yes.
That’s not to say meditating inside is terrible.
But doing it outside can be beneficial for certain goals.
Plus, there’s just something about sitting under the sky, sun, and clouds that enhances the experience.
But how do you meditate outdoors?
Is it done differently?
Is there a better time of day to do it?
If you’re interested in moving your meditation outside, settle in — because we’re unpacking what you need to know below.
- Is It Good to Meditate Outdoors?
- Is It Better to Meditate Indoors or Outdoors?
- 6 Essential Steps to Meditating Outside
Is It Good to Meditate Outdoors?
Yes, meditating in nature is good for you. It naturally massages the senses and gets you out of the house for a bit.
Yes, when outside, there will be distractions over which you have no control, but they don’t feel as personal and therefore aren’t as triggering.
In addition to better pain control, focus, memory, sleep, and self-awareness, the benefits of outdoor meditation include:
- Stronger Body-Mind Connection: Humans benefit from being outdoors because it exercises our senses and strengthens the body-mind connection.
- Less Stress and Depression: Meditating is a way to step back from intense worry and stress. Moreover, since it soothes the nervous system, it helps alleviate bodily tension and reduces the release of stress hormones like cortisol.
- Good Brain Exercise: Research proves that outside meditation soothes three of the brain’s critical components — the gray matter, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala. Furthermore, it decreases activity in the brain’s stress centers.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Spending time outdoors diminishes stress-related hormones like adrenaline and cortisol; so does meditation, especially moving ones.
- Improved Concentration: Studies suggest that both spending time outside and meditation enhance cognitive function. So when you meditate outdoors, it’s a double whammy.
- Slower Aging: A study published in 2015 in Frontiers of Psychology found that meditation slows aging in the brain’s gray matter. It also guards against degenerative cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
There’s a reason why ashrams, monasteries, and spiritual retreats are often tucked away in the wilderness.
Being in the fresh air around plants and animals is calming and infuses you with contemplative energy.
Is It Better to Meditate Indoors or Outdoors?
Whether indoor or outdoor, meditating is excellent for your mind and body — and you really can’t go wrong either way.
However, each has unique benefits and characteristics.
- Is better if you want to work on increasing single-minded focus or self-awareness
- Can be the ideal option when you’re trying to cultivate discipline
- Works when the weather isn’t cooperating and allows for year-round practice
- Requires more mental fluidity
- Better connects you to nature
- Increases your capacity for receptivity
- Is excellent when your home is busier than Grand Central Station (especially with so many people working from home these days)
We should note that beginners often find outdoor meditations easier in the beginning. Why? Nobody is sure, but the trend is consistent.
6 Essential Steps to Meditating Outside
How do you meditate outside? In the simplest terms, it’s much like meditating indoors. However, to enjoy the best possible experience, soak in the nature around you.
To that end, we’ve developed an outdoor meditation for beginners. Read through it a few times before giving it a shot.
And don’t worry about not following the instructions to the letter. There’s always room for improvisation when it comes to meditating.
1. Pick a Spot
You may want to do some reconnaissance work before picking a place.
Will you climb a mountain and meditate at its peak? Or perhaps you want to experiment with meditating while waiting for the bus or subway. Your balcony or backyard are also options.
Just ensure it’s OK for you to set up shop in your chosen spot. Safety should also be a top priority.
2. Mind Your Clothing
Put some thought into your outside meditation wardrobe. Does it fit the weather? Will your chosen location require a special piece of clothing? Is there a possibility of rain?
Layers are a good idea because things can change in an instant outside.
Moreover, don’t forget to turn off your phone, silence it, or put it in airplane mode. The point of outside meditation is to take a step away from everyday stresses.
That said, you may want to set a timer — if only to avoid obsessing about “how much time you have left.”
3. Pay Attention to Your Posture
The next thing to consider when meditating outdoors is posture.
We don’t mean to sound like your grandma — the one who’s always scolding you to sit and stand up straight. However, good posture can enhance your meditation experience by opening your energy channels.
Bring props for support if needed. Outdoor meditation chairs and stools can also be helpful tools.
Moreover, don’t worry about tying yourself into a pretzel position. It’s not a requirement. Sitting cross-legged is perfectly acceptable and won’t detrimentally affect your meditation.
Lastly, use hand mudras if you want to enhance your energetic orbit.
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4. Start With Deep Breaths
Once you’re in position, begin by taking deep breaths. It calms the nervous system and aligns you with natural vibes. There’s just something about taking in fresh, outdoor air that boosts your mood and spiritual connections.
Deep breathing is easy and has a significant impact on your mood. Studies prove that slowing down air intake soothes the nervous and respiratory systems. That’s why you tell people experiencing panic attacks to breathe deeply.
When meditating, inhale for three seconds, hold for the same amount, then exhale for three seconds. Repeat this as many times as you want. Notice the air entering and leaving your body. You can also pair each inhale and exhale with an affirmation.
For example, when taking a breath in, think “inhale the good”; while expelling air, use “release the bad.”
5. Draw Your Thoughts Inward
Now it’s time to focus inward.
Notice the thoughts in your head, but don’t judge them. Acknowledge them, but don’t chastise them. Then, gently return your focus to your breath and the miracle of existence.
At this point, concentrate on the topic you want to contemplate. Affirmations are also an option.
Remember that meditation isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Options abound. You could:
- Engage in a sound meditation and focus on an audial event. Concentrate on birdsong, a nearby construction site, or traffic.
- Do a walking meditation. With each step, say an affirmation. Remember to be careful and look where you’re going!
- Do a simple breathing awareness meditation where you focus all your attention on your breath. It’s a great way to ease tension and connect with your higher self and Mother Nature.
- Engage in an analytical meditation when you dissect an idea, issue, or problem that’s been on your mind.
6. End With Gratitude
End each meditation with devotional gratitude. Thank the Universe for all the good in your life; thank your higher self for always looking out.
Gratitude helps fuel the spiritual plane. Besides, giving feels just as good as receiving — if not better — and has a significant, positive impact on your mental health.
What Happens During a Nature Meditation?
What happens during a nature meditation depends on the type of practice and location and your personal goals and situation.
Meditating outdoors makes you physically connected to the nature around you. You are in direct contact with natural vibrations. As a result, expect to feel:
- That special tingle you get from being outside
- Less distracted than you would inside
- Looked upon by other people (which requires a certain amount of confidence)
Meditating in the great outdoors is an exhilarating experience. But always check the weather and other factors before heading out.
The last thing you want is to get stuck in a lightning storm or smack in the middle of a parade route.